CAN, NSCIA, NCDC, PTF discuss guidelines to re-open religious centres

Following pressure from religious leaders to re-open places of worship, the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and Presidential Task Force (PTF) met on Tuesday in Abuja.

The meeting deliberated extensively on guideline to re-open places of worship especially in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The parties agreed it was high time for places of worship to reopen, adding that precautionary measures should be followed.

Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to the CAN President Rev. Samson Ayokunle, who confirmed the development to The Nation after the meeting said part of the guidelines is that CAN will constitute a committee together with law enforcement agencies to enforce full compliance.

Oladeji told The Nation the guidelines are: “Churches should disinfectant their premises first before they are reopened for services. Churches should provide alcoholic sanitisers, temperature readers, soap and water in their premises to be supervised by medical professionals in the Church.

“Every worshipper must either use soap to wash their hands or apply sanitisers. The temperature of every worshipper must be screened before admission into the church and people with the high temperature should be advised to go and see their doctors.

“Every worshipper must wear facemask. Social distancing should be observed in the sitting arrangement with one meter gap between two worshippers. One hour service for a start. All Sunday services to end on or at 5:30pm.

“There should be a gap of 10 minutes between one service or another where there are multiple services to avoid crowd. Churches can make use of classrooms and multipurpose halls for services where available especially in big churches to accommodate more worshippers at a go. TV circuit and speakers can be used for those who are not inside the main auditorium.

“Handshaking and hugging should be avoided before, during and after the service. Children should worship with their parents. Prayers should be offered to God for a speedy end of COVID-19 and quick recovery of all that are afflicted by the pandemic. Prayers should also be offered for those frontline workers for divine protection”.

A source, who was also part of the meeting, disclosed that the PTF/NCDC promised to prepare its recommendations which all will be presented to the President who will decide the accepted ones and present it to the nation in his coming National address on Monday.

The source said the Muslims submitted theirs too which included the usual guidelines, addling that they wanted their worship to be held the same hour according to the Qur’anic injunctions.

They are of the opinion that children will not take part.

The source went further that: “All parties agreed that it is high time to reopen the worship places even as SGF acknowledged and appreciated the support and understanding of the leadership of CAN and NSCIA on the lockdown order especially the closure of the worship places. The meeting was attended by the leadership of CAN, NSCIA, NCDC/PTF”.

Another source at the meeting said the CAN delegation was led by the Chairman, North central, Rev. Israel Akanji, who is also the President, FCT Baptist Conference with FCT CAN chairman, Rev. Jonah Samson.

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