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Religious houses in Lagos to reopen on Friday – Sanwo-Olu

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Oziegbe Okoeki and Adeola Ogunlade

 

LAGOS State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday gave the green light for the re-opening of places of worship in the state from next Friday, August 7.

While Moslems can reopen Mosques from Friday, August 7, Christians can also do the same from Sunday, August 9.

The governor gave the directive in a statewide broadcast at the Lagos House, Marina, Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu however said the religious houses would open only once a week for their regular services and will only allow 50 per cent of their capacity, though they can hold multiple services on such designated days. Other weekly services and vigils are still put on hold.

He also advised that those above 65 years of age should not attend services at the places of worship; they should instead stay back at home.

All the worship places are to adhere strictly to all the Covid-19 guidelines, including regular cleaning and disinfection of the worship centres before, during and after every service.

According to Sanwo-Olu, “No facemask, no entry policy should be observed in our religious centres and all religious centres must have sanitizers and emergency numbers must be advertised at the entrance of their worship centres.”

The governor said the state has seen a gradual decrease in positivity rate in the last two weeks being the outcome of its response strategy but it still needs to build on successes and close all existing gaps if any.

“Having carefully reviewed the current situation in Lagos, we have taken important decisions in line with the on-going objective of calibrating an effective balance between competing demands for safe guiding lives and enabling livelihood  of our people”, this he said has necessitated the announced relaxations.

The governor also increased public gatherings capacity from 20 to 50 people, stressing that all standard preventive and control measures must still be strictly adhered to.

Restaurants are now permitted to have in-dining services with 50 per cent capacity from August 14 and must have permission from the Lagos State Safety Commission to do so while Social Clubs and recreation centers are also allowed to open from August 14; they must be certified by Safety Commission.

They are however to meet the stated conditions and must have applied to the safety commission to be recertified.

But cinemas, night clubs and Arcade remain closed for now. The governor promised that the government will come back there in the course of the month after reviewing the current situation.

The governor promised further palliatives in the coming days for the vulnerable in the society.

He also said “the new development followed a careful review of emerging positive events,” stressing the decisions to relax the lockdown measures was to create a balance between competing demands of safeguarding the lives of the residents and preserving their means of livelihoods.

Read Also: Sanwo-Olu approves bus fare increase

He said: “Having carefully reviewed the current scenario in Lagos, we have taken some important decisions in line with the ongoing objective of calibrating an effective balance between the competing demands of safeguarding lives and enabling livelihoods.”

He also said Lagos State Government patterned its response strategy “after Mumbai, an India populous city that shares similar demographic and climatic conditions with Lagos,” adding that he “observed that Lagos had recorded similar results and successes with Mumbai in its COVID-19 response.”

Giving update on covid-19 cases in the state, Sanwo-Olu said, in the past five months when the index case was recorded, the state has had 15,150 confirmed positive cases, out of which 10,835 have been treated and discharged with 194 deaths and 1,813 active cases.

He also disclosed that the government has closed the Eti Osa and Agidingbi isolation centres and patients in Agidingbi moved to other centres because the facilities have less patients to contend with now.

Sanwo-olu urged civil servants in Lagos State to maintain status quo by the roaster from the Head of Service, noting that those working from home should avail themselves of the several platforms.

It would be recalled that there have been mixed reactions to reopening of worship centres in the country. While some religious leaders supported closure of schools, others said the government has no right to shut worship centres. Earlier yesterday, Christ Embassy leader, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, expressed dissatisfaction with continuous closure of worship centres, warning that Christians around the world have respected government enough and may be forced to break all rules.

The Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Sola Ore has expressed his satisfaction over the announcement of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu that the church to begin operation saying it is a good thing, we give thanks that we are coming back. It can only get better.

Ore said this in an interview after the Lagos State Government gave the nod for churches to begin operation.

According to him, there is a spiritual synergy when we come together.  So, it’s a good thing churches are resuming.

He advised pastors in the state to reduce their emphasis on money as the churches plan to reopen.

Ore, however, said it will be unfair for pastors to continue with the material gospel noting that “the COVID-19 season has taught us to be less materialistic”

He noted that during the lockdown many were able to realize that our needs are not many.

“If you have a wardrobe full of clothes, you soon realized that those clothes are not necessary because your moving around has been reduced. Many people had cars they could not use during the lockdown.

He added: If there is any lesson from the pandemic, it is that our needs are few. So church leaders should refrain from the temptation of putting financial pressure on their members. They should realize that people are just coming out of economic strangulation caused by the lockdown.” .

Rather he counselled that emphasis should be more on prayers. “Churches should spend a great deal of time praying for Nigeria and praying that God will intervene in the political and economic life of the country.

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