Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday said religious houses can open in two weeks’ time, but members in attendance must not exceed 500 at each service.
The governor said this while releasing fresh guidelines for the second phase of the ease of lockdown of the state at Lagos House, Marina, pointing out that worship centres should open at a maximum of 40 per cent of their membership.
Sanwo-Olu, however, said any worship centre with larger congregation where the number exceeds 500 at that percentage could have more than one service, adding that churches were only to run Sunday services while Muslims were to observe Friday Jumat service only, with both faiths barred from holding vigils and other weekly services.
The governor also said those below 15 years of age and above 65 years should not be allowed into places of worship due to the vulnerability of people within those age brackets.
“As we all know, gathering, mass gathering during COVID-19 pandemic can be of serious public health consequences. And there is documented evidence that mass gathering can increase the spread of the virus. And that’s why we will from 14 days’ time, precisely from the 19th of June for our Muslim worshippers, from the 21st of June, for our Christian worshipers, allow all of our religious bodies to open at the maximum of 40 per cent of their capacity, maximum of 40 per cent of their capacity, and we’ll be working with them as being expected with the Lagos State Safety Commission.
“But we know that these places of worship have different sizes. But even if you’re 40 per cent capacity, it is really so large, you cannot have beyond 500. And keeping that 40 per cent maximum capacity is really, really so, so important. Right and no matter how big your place of worship might be, you cannot have more than 500 worshipers at once.
“We’ll be encouraging people to have more than one service and to ensure that they keep their premises clean, disinfect before another round of worship can take place. We’ll also advise that there should only be mandatory Fridays and Sunday services, all other night vigils and order regular services must be put on hold for now, until we review our current situation.
“We will also be advising very, very strongly that persons below the age of 15 because of how well they walk around, and how they become difficult to hold down, that they should be excused from the places of worship. And citizens that are above the age of 65 should not be allowed into these places of worship. I mean, these are very, very, very important points that we need to reemphasize, because of how we see things,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
The governor, while urging all religious houses to adhere strictly to safety measures, said they should fumigate and keep the premises clean as well as ensure that worshipers wear a face mask before entering, use of sanitiser, among others, adding that the Lagos State Safety Commission would not only register but would be going round to check the level of compliance.
He warned that the state government had the discretion to stop or restrict worship where there was no compliance.
Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu said primary and secondary schools would remain shut, pointing out that the state government was still consulting with all stakeholders in the sector and would come out with guidelines for their re-opening in two weeks time, adding that the on-line classes for tertiary institutions continue.
He, however, said that civil servants on levels 13-14 can, as from next Monday, resume with their senior colleagues on level 15 and above, while levels 1-12 were to wait.
According to him, “All other guidelines are as announced by PTF on Monday and they include: curfew from 10 pm-4 am, full re-opening of banks and other financial institutions, offices and business places to operate from 7 am-6 pm; manufacturing companies permitted to do night shift but to make arrangement for movement of staff.
“Hotels and hospitality businesses are also free to open while restaurants will open for take-away services only, however, gyms, spas, cinema, event cents, nite clubs and all other such services remain closed and cross-state journeys remain banned.”
Meanwhile, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday disclosed that the government will deploy 570 buses on the BRT corridor on various routes next week, saying that the buses were currently being cleared from the port.