By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo
Osun State Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola on Wednesday held separate meetings with Christian and Muslim leaders in the State on guidelines for reopening of churches and mosques across the state for two weeks.
The governor disclosed that the decision to reopen worship centers partially was in response to the request by religious leaders and the resolve of the Federal Government to lift a ban on religious activities.
He said the State government had prepared some guidelines that must be followed in order to forestall the possible spread of the virus as a result of the reopening, adding that further actions by the government would be determined by the effect of compliance level to the guidelines by churches and mosques during the two-week period.
Reeling out some of the guidelines at the meeting held in his office at the Government Secretariat, Abere, and Government House respectively, Oyetola said only regular church services of not more than one hour, and maximum of two services would be allowed, and that Jumat service including khutbah (sermon) and prayers must not exceed 20 minutes.
He said vulnerable individuals such as those from age 65 and above and people with underlying ailments such as tuberculosis, diabetes, among others, are to continue worshipping at their respective homes. He also directed that all church and mosques premises be fumigated to ensure that the worship environments are free of virus and other infectious diseases.
Oyetola stated further that, “Worshipers are to keep reasonable space in churches and mosques and no worship centres must be filled to capacity during any service and solat respectively. There should be provision of washing facilities or sanitisers for worshipers before entering the churches and mosques.
“Also, use of face mask is important, sharing of worship devices such as microphones and other musical gadgets should be discouraged. Water and food distribution during service should be discouraged.
“Worshippers must avoid the exchange of banters and social distancing must be strictly observed. Windows in churches and mosques should be opened during worship for ventilation. Signage and notices should be placed at strategic locations to remind worshippers of best hygiene practices to be observed.”
He also mandated churches and mosques to provide thermometers to check temperature of worshippers, adding that whoever is with high temperature should not be allowed into the worship centres.
The governor added that vigils and children’s activities remain suspended, adding that worship centres with the support of security operatives should set up a taskforce to enforce compliance with measures put in place by the government.
Oyetola who expressed satisfaction with the positive effect of his administration’s pro-activeness in curbing the spread of Coronavirus in the state, appreciated the leadership of both religions for their cooperation and understanding since the lockdown began in the State.
He said, “We thank you for your cooperation so far. The pandemic came all of a sudden but we thank God that He has endowed us with ability to manage it. We are not in the clear yet but it is becoming increasingly clear that this virus has come to live with us for a while.
“We seek your continued cooperation so that we can together save our people from this deadly outbreak. We are doing a test case and not necessarily following other states. Further decisions will depend on compliance with directives on safety measures and the results that will come out of it.”