Ahead of the announced reopening of religious centres in Lagos, from June 19 and 21, 2020, the state government has issued a caveat that churches and mosques whose attendees failed on Sundays and Fridays to wear facemasks to services would be closed down .
The Government has also prohibited parents from taking their infants to religious gatherings, warning that the flouting of this directive would attract sanctions against such parents.
Lanre Mojola, the Director General of Lagos State Safety Commission, at a follow-up media briefing on Friday, said officials would be deployed to strictly enforce all the guidelines and protocols earlier reeled out by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday.
According to Mojola, Government expects that in a families with infants, one of the parents would stay home to offer care, while the other could attend church or mosque service.
It is also expected that worshipers would observe the standard two metres social distancing protocol from each other while seated in the church or mosque.
“While all event centres remain shut until further notice, those used for religious gatherings, could however, open but strictly for that purpose and must observe all the protocols,” Mojola said.
The DG, who also disclosed that over a thousand applications have been received from owners and operators of all events, gyms and other social places not yet given the nod to reopen, urged them to continue the register-to open procedures and obtain their certificates, stressing that the registration and certificate issuance are at no cost to such businesses.
It would be recalled that the state governor, Sanwo-Olu, while giving update on the steps towards full reopening of the state, said mosques would conditionally reopen from June 19 while churches would follow suit on June 21, 2020
According to the Governor, though given the go-ahead to reopen, they must, however, limit congregational gatherings to 40 percent of their capacities and observe all guidelines that allow for safety of worshipers and further check the transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such protocols, he said, include mandatory wearing of facemasks by all persons going into the churches and mosques, provision for hand-washing under running water, temperature check, sanitizers and observance of social distance by the worshipers.
The religious centres are also expected to limit their gatherings only to regular Sunday services (churches) and Friday Jumat prayers ( mosques) as all other services including night vigils are prohibited for the time being.
There are also prevented from communion or sharing of food of any kind in the churches or kettle in the mosques
Sanwo-Olu said aged persons, 65 years and above as well young people, 15 years and below are to steer clear from all religious gatherings until otherwise further directed. This, according to him, is necessary, as statistics of fatalities showed that persons within these brackets are more susceptible to the pandemic.
Compliance with these measures, the Governor warned, would be strictly monitored by officials of the Lagos State Safety Commission, who would be paying surprise visits to the religious houses.
Organizations that don’t have a safety compliance certificate should proceed with their registration as it does not hinder their chances of getting a provisional safety compliance certificate.