By Adeniyi Adedeji, Ilorin
The Kwara State Government has asked allowed churches and mosques in the state to open for worship services, but with conditions attached to the lifting of ban on religious gathering.
Kwara State Deputy Governor, Mr. Kayode Alabi, who also doubles as the Chairman, state COVID-19 Technical Task Force, made the announcement in Ilorin, the state capital.
Alabi said that Muslims can worship in their mosques as from “Friday June 5, on the condition that they satisfy certain criteria already agreed upon with various religious umbrella bodies in the state.”
Also, Alabi said churches could open their doors to worship on Sunday; June 7, as long as they too satisfy the government spelt out criteria.
He had said, “The state government however warned that the concession for churches and mosques to reopen does not mean that the state has flattened the curve of transmission of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision came hours after the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 held a marathon meeting with the leadership of the Muslim and Christian communities, including the Jama’atu Nasrul Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
“We are definitely not out of the woods, as cases continue to rise, especially because of violation of travel restrictions.”
Meanwhile, the laid down criteria for religious houses to open include: “worship centres shall be organized (by the respective head of the congregation) in such a way that one attendant is at least one metre away from the next.
“Each worship centre shall make provisions for hand washing or hand sanitisers, and infrared thermometer, wearing of face masks shall be mandatory for all worshipers.
“There shall be no hand shaking or hugging among worshipers, children remain restricted from worship centres. People above 65 or persons with underlying health conditions are urged to stay away from worship centres
“Muslims should perform ablutions from their own houses. Ablution spots are not allowed for now to avoid the spread of the virus. Muslim women are to stay away from mosques, as suggested by the leadership of the Muslim community in the state.
“Each worship centre is to dedicate a few minutes before service or prayers to educate attendants about COVID-19 and its dangers and adequate ventilation is to be ensured at each worship centre.”
The Deputy Governor added that the state government’s Rapid Response Team, RRT, shall conduct random visits to worship centres to take samples and do temperature checks.
Also, government shall hold affected religious leaders responsible for non-compliance with all COVID-19-related safety measures in their worship centres, he added, saying, “This is as agreed upon by the religious umbrella bodies with the state government.”