Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has called for restraint in celebrations during the Christmas and New Year festivities as he announced the suspension of street carnivals, crowded cross-over night service, parties and similar gatherings in the state amidst an increase in COVID-19 infections across the nation.
The governor on Wednesday also directed all civil servants and other government workers in the state to proceed on Christmas and New Year holiday from Thursday, December 24.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, the directives were issued on Wednesday after a meeting between the state government and religious leaders from the League of Imams and the Christian Association of Nigeria as well as community leaders as part of the measures and guidelines for public health as the state prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor directed that all schools in the state are to remain closed until January 18, 2021, while all bars, nightclubs, pubs, event centres and recreational centres in the state have also been closed down indefinitely.
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.
Gov Abiodun further directed that religious and worship centres should not exceed 50 percent of their capacity. All services must also be in compliance with all COVID-19 protocols.
In order to stem the spread of the second wave of the disease, Gov. Abiodun advised that “there should be no gatherings of more than 50 people at any event or ceremonies, such as conferences, congresses, office events, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, cross-over nights, end of year parties, weddings, naming, birthdays, anniversaries, street carnivals, etc until further notice”.
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, Gov. Abiodun wished the people a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2021, saying they should take personal responsibilities and stay within their residences and not embark on travels within and outside the State to ensure they 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 and go to Mosque with their personal praying mats
Qualified Medical Practitioners or trained personnel should check the temperature of worshippers with infrared thermometer before allowing 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 one hour. 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 well 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 and its dangers should be included in sermon and goodwill messages
Provision of isolation rooms is mandatory in all worship centres or facilities
Religious services and 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.