COVID-19: FG rolls out guidelines on reopening of religious gatherings

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Federal Government of Nigeria has rolled out guidelines and compulsory measures on re-opening of places of worship to curb the spread of Covid-19 as disclosed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC on Saturday, which includes temperature checks at point of entry, persons with temperature over 37.50C should be asked to leave & seek medical attention.

Have handwashing facilities in front of places of worship. For Muslims, encourage them to perform ablution (wudu) at home. Clearly separate and mark areas in place of worship, to ensure 2 metres distance between people. Sunday schools, Islamiyah, children Bible classes and all childcare classes are discouraged for now; children should be with <br>their parents.

Ensure separate entry and exit points into places of worship and avoid overcrowding at entry and exit points. Offer alcohol-based hand sanitizers to worshipers as they enter the place of worship. Inform worshipers to keep a distance of 2 meters from the nearest worshiper.

Ensure adequate ventilation in halls of worship, open windows, and doors for air to circulate in and out freely most especially when using air conditioners. To abide by NCDC guidelines on mass gathering, places of worship may have to hold several worship & prayer sessions in a day with limited number of participants in each service according to available space.

Encourage congregating in open spaces. Establish a regular sanitizing or cleaning routine, surfaces frequently touched must be cleaned at intervals during worship. Always ensure and enforce the use of face-masks. Notices on use of face-mask must be placed at entry points and within premises of places of worship. As much as possible, virtual meetings, preaching, and visits are encouraged in place of physical ones. At the beginning of worship, it is advised to give a short reminder on hygiene guidelines to prevent COVID-19, such as advising worshippers to cough into their elbows or tissues which must be discarded properly.

Use personal religious items in places of worship, limit or avoid the use of shared items for now. such items include but not limited to Quran, Bible, prayer mats, hymn books, kettles for ablution, etc. Encourage electronic means of collecting tithes and contributions to limit contact with possible contaminated cash or cheques.

Shaking of hands, hugs and all physical contacts that form part of religious rituals are to be avoided for now. Encourage worshippers that are most vulnerable (i.e. adults 60 and over and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions) and those with symptoms of illness to stay at home. 

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