National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic has said that regular services in churches and mosques will be restricted to a maximum of one hour to minimize contact among worshippers.
Dr Sani Aliyu, said this on Tuesday while giving clarification on the lifting of the ban on places of worship announced by the PTF on Monday.
He said churches are to open from 5 am and close at 8 pm, and “for churches, each service shall be for a maximum of one hour with an interval of 30 minutes in between services to allow time for disinfection.”
He added that mosques will open 15 minutes before prayer and close to 10 minutes after.
Dr Aliyu noted that it is essential that places of worship operate in a safe manner to avoid outbreak and take measures to protect the vulnerable members of the population.
He said, “The following guidelines have been developed as a minimum set of standards that should be complied by places of worship to safely operate nationwide. They have been developed by the PTF in liaison with the leadership of the religious community in the country and should be used by state governments as a baseline for permitting the use of these facilities.
“It is important to note that due to the nature of religious congregations, places of worship are particularly recognized to have a greater potential for spreading COVID-19 among worshippers and this has been demonstrated in several countries globally, linked to religious gatherings.
“Therefore, places of worship that are unable to comply with these measures should not be allowed to operate by state governments.
“The following measures are recommended. All places of worship must sign up to full compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19 including but not limited to, ensuring the supply of soap, running water/alcohol sanitizer at the exit and entry points and all high point locations including bathrooms.
“Worshippers must sanitize their hands before entering, worshippers must have temperature check before entering, use of face masks is mandatory; we strongly discourage all close contacts including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of worship implements and sharing of items including prayer mats, musical organs, microphones, etc.
“The capacity of the facility should be limited to allow for physical distancing of at least two metres between persons.”
Noting the concern around the country about the reopening of the worship places, he affirmed that it is safer for citizens to stay at home and worship there, saying that all the PTF is doing is to provide guidance in case people are not able to fulfil their spiritual needs at home.
He said, “We are not making recommendations that people should go to places of worship, but if they choose to, we are providing advisory to enable them to do so safely.
“It is still better to do your worship at home. COVID-19 has not gone away, you only need to look at the numbers, we are in exponential phase of the illness, we have moved as a country right up to the third position in Africa. And because of our position, we could also move to the second position or even the first.
“So, now is the time to continue to take precautionary measures. Now is not the time to relax.”