The Federal Government has reeled out guidelines for the operation of worship centres across the country even as Nigerians get set to resume economic activities after weeks of restrictions to stave off the spread of coronavirus.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha at a briefing, warned Nigerians that the relaxation of restrictions does not imply that the virus has abated.
“On the contrary, COVID-19 is still virulent, dangerous and infectious. Our lives have changed for good and will never revert to what we used to know. That is why we have urged all the employers, employees and leaders of sectors allowed to re-open to diligently comply with non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed in the guidelines and the protocols agreed by state governments,” he added.
National Coordinator of PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu advised families to stick together during worship, adding that those with irregular body temperatures or symptoms should remain at home.
As contained in the guidelines, Nigerians who are 55 years and above are advised to observe to worship at home, as statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, reveal that elderly people are more prone to infections and death form COVID-19.
Churches would open between 5am to 8pm daily and will conduct each service for not less than an hour. Mosques on the other hand, are to open 20 minutes before prayers and close 20 minutes after prayers, just as Islamiyya and Sunday schools will remain suspended.
Also, the use of face mask would become mandatory, just as the leadership of churches and mosques have been mandated to provide hand wash facilities/sanitizers at entry points, as well as ensuring social distancing among members.
“We strongly discourage all close contacts including; shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship instruments including prayer mats, musical instruments and microphones.
“Responsibility for enforcement will be with the leadership of the church or mosque committees and supported by local authorities including state governments.
“We are not saying that people should not go to places of worship, but if they choose to, we are providing advisory to guide them. It is still better to do your worship at home,” said the guidelines.