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COVID-19: Ekiti govt. gives conditions for reopening of churches, mosques

… As Muslims suspend reopening of mosques

Priscilla Ofunre, Ado-Ekiti

Although religious centres have been directed to reopen for operations beginning  July 17, in Ekiti State after three and a half months of closure due to COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has clarified that no church or mosque would be allowed to resume without complying with the stipulated guidelines to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

The government said only religious centres with Coronavirus prevention facilities would  be allowed to resume activities, while certificates of compliance must be received from the Ministry to authenticate their readiness to reopen.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Ekiti State chapter, has suspended reopening of all major mosques across the state.

Governor Kayode Fayemi had recently announced that all churches and mosques operating in Ekiti can commence operation on July 17 after the nationwide lockdown barring religious activities was pronounced on March 29.

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Commissioner for Environment in the state, Hon. Gbenga Agbeyo, who said this in Ado-Ekiti, on Thursday, insisted  that no religious centres would be allowed to resume without complying with the stipulated guidelines to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

He said all the churches and mosques must comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols to avert the spread of the deadly disease, saying provision of requisite facilities remains the prerequisite for reopening.

Agbeyo said part of the prerequisites is that, the religious centres must fumigate their premises, and provide running water in front of their buildings to ensure regular hand washing.

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Said he, “Others also include, use alcohol based hand sanitisers, ensure they wear nose covers, make available infrared thermometers for body temperature measurements and maintain social distancing.”

Debunking the rumour of payment of N2,000 for issuance of certificate after fumigation, the commissioner said, “The ministry had met with the leadership of the religious bodies including CAN and they have agreed to bear the cost of fumigating their premises themselves as certificates will be issued to them at no cost.”

He stressed the commitment of the present administration to the welfare and wellbeing of Ekiti people adding that government would continue to protect the lives of the people.

Speaking on social distancing in market places, Agbeyo said, “government was working on Awedele, Agric Olope and Irona markets to accommodate more people to give room for social distancing.”

Meanwhile, a statement signed by the President of NSCIA in the state, Alhaji Yaqubu Sanni, on Thursday,  said the suspension of activities in mosques was taken, because all the safety protocols could not be met within the time frame stipulated by the government.

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“Muslims in the Government Committee on the re-opening of worship centers and health officer educated members on how to guard themselves from COVID-19 and conditions to be met before the re-opening of mosques in the State.

“After reviewing the guidelines, it was agreed that the conditions for re-opening of mosques as discussed could not be met within the stipulated time frame, that is, between now and July 17, 2020.

“Hence, it was resolved that the Muslims in Ekiti State would hold on for a while in preparations to meet the conditions laid down”, Sanni said.

The NSCIA applauded the state government for the steps taken to safeguard the lives of worshippers in Ekiti State against the pandemic.

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