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COVID-19: Ogun suspends festive carnivals, cross-over gathering

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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Ogun State Government has announced the suspension of street carnivals, crowded cross-over night service, parties and similar gatherings, during the Christmas and New Year festivities, amidst an increase in COVID-19 infections across the nation.

The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who gave the directives through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Kunle Somorin on Wednesday, after a meeting between the state government and religious leaders from the League of Imams and Christian Association of Nigeria as well as community leaders.

As part of the measures and guidelines for public health, while the state prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov Abiodun directed all civil servants and other government workers in the State to proceed on Christmas and New Year holiday from Thursday, December 24.

Also Schools in the State are to remain closed until January 18, 2021, while all bars, nightclubs, pubs and event centres, recreational centres in the state have also been closed down indefinitely, religious and worship centres should not exceed 50 per cent of their capacity, services must also be in compliance with all COVID-19 protocols.

The Governor further directed that the all markets are to open strictly between 8am and 4pm while maintaining social distancing and observing all COVID-19 protocols, including the use of face mask, provision of hand sanitizer and/or hand-washing equipment at every strategic point within their malls, shops, business premises etc.

He also called on motorcycle (okada), tricycle, bus, car, taxi and other transport operators not to carry passengers above 50 percent of their capacity, in compliance with social distancing rules, while urging citizens to celebrate in moderation.

He wished the Ogun people a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2021, adding that they should take personal responsibilities and stay within their residences and not embark on travels within and outside the State to ensure neither transmit nor contract the virus.

For religious centres, the League of Imams and the Christian leaders adopted the earlier positions taken in the wake of COVID-19 earlier in the year such as: All worship activities must be observed by not more than 50percent of capacity. All congregants must wear their face masks appropriately (that is, No facemask, No entry)

There should be reliable sources of running water. Worship centres should be adequately cleaned and disinfected before and after services. Household bleach solution should be adequately prepared for disinfectations. There should be adequate provision and supervision of multiple Veronica Buckets for handwashing (fully automated handwashing machines are preferable)

There should be provision of alcohol-based sanitiser which must be used before and at intervals of every 20 minutes as well as after service. Worship centre should provide adequate toilet facilities with water. It is paramount for Muslims to perform ablution at home & go to Mosque with their personal praying mats

Qualified Medical Practitioners or trained personnels should check the temperature of worshippers with infrared thermometer before alowing them to enter worship centres. There should be adequate medical support for sick persons. All services on Friday/Sunday and other week days must adhere strictly to COVID-19 Guidelines

There should be pre-designated standing position/sitting points to ensure not less than 2 meter distancing. The duration of religious services should not be more than 1hour. In addition, same duration must be observed at intervals, where there are multiple services

The use of Air-conditioners should be discouraged while worship centres should be ventilated with the use of fans. There should not be any handshake/hugs by worshippers. Proper awareness of the susceptibility of the aged and people with signs of ill-health should be adequately created among worshippers at all times

Constant sensitisation of COVID-19 & its dangers should be included in sermon and goodwill messages. Provision of isolation rooms is mandatory in all worship centres or facilities. Religious services & events should be recorded with digital camera for record purposes

Government will not hesitate to impose severe sanctions (including, but not limited to lockdown) on any Worship Centre that fails to comply with the laid down guidelines. No social gathering should exceed 200 people while 2 meters social distancing must be observed in such gatherings. Disposable elements should be used during Holy Communion instead of sharing cups.

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