NIGERIAN authorities have published guidelines governing the opening of churches and mosques as the lockdown imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic is eased with strict conditions including no physical contact and those over the age of 55 barred from attending.
Like every other country, Nigeria banned religious congregations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, closing churches and mosques. Muslims and Christians were urged to worship at home but now that the restrictions are being lifted, the presidential task force on Covid-19 has issued conditions under which churches and mosques can resume services.
Sani Aliyu, the national coordinator of the presidential task force, said that religious gatherings can resume but under the condition that there is no kissing, hugging, shaking or touching at worship centres. He added that churches and mosques facilities must be structured in a way that physical distancing can be observed.
Also, according to Mr Aliyu, persons above 55 should try not to go to worship centres but observe their worship services at home. In addition,. the task force also advised worshippers with coronavirus symptoms not to go to places of worship.
Mr Aliyu said: “Worshippers are advised not to touch each other in a manner such as hugging, shaking, kissing, etc and families are advised to stay together during the worship services. Church/mosque volunteers such as ushers, choir, security etc, that have underlying illnesses should not be allowed to serve.”
In addition, he also advised that churches and mosques with a high number of worshippers can divide their services into two or three. Mr Aliyu added: “Such churches/mosques should have a break of at least 30mins between the services to allow worshippers wash their hands or to disinfect the centres.
“Worship centres should have different entry and exit points and business outlets at worship centres should remain closed. The elderly above 55 are advised to observe their worship services at home and windows should be left open during services, as it’s more dangerous to hold services in enclosed places.
“Open-air services are preferable and worshippers with Covid-19 symptoms should not go to places of worship. Persons identified with high temperature after a temperature check should be turned back.”