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COVID-19: CAN says security operatives will enforce church re-opening guidelines

Worshippers to seat one metre apart

THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday says it will seek the support of security operatives to comply with the newly proposed guidelines for re-opening of places of worships as part of efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bayo Oladeji, CAN Media Assistant to the CAN president disclosed this in a telephone chat with The ICIR.

There have been reports that CAN and the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) have submitted guidelines to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) 0n COVID-19 on the re-opening of worship places.

The security operatives according to Oladeji would include men of Nigeria Police and officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

He confirmed that CAN and NSCIA had submitted the guidelines, noting that the security officers would work under the supervision of CAN’s monitoring and enforcement committee.

“It is true my brother…each of the committees would be supported by the police or NSCDC. We would appeal to them to join us to strengthen the committee,” Oladeji said.

The CAN President spokesperson added  worshippers would seat one metre apart while churches that offer multiple services would have a 10-minute break after each service if the guidelines are approved.

Since the outbreak  of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, over 5.8 million cases and more than 358, 984 deaths have been recorded globally.

In Nigeria, 8,733 cases have been recorded, with 254 deaths and 2,501persons recovered as of May 27.

There have been calls by some religious leaders to the government to lift the public gathering ban.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Wednesday reportedly met with representatives of religious bodies in Abuja to discuss some of the submitted recommendations for further review by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and subsequent approval by President Muhammadu Buhari before worship centres are opened.

According to Oladeji, Olasupo Ayokunle, CAN President was represented by  at the meeting by Israel Akanji, Head of Baptist Church,  Abuja and  Samson Jonah, Chairman of CAN, FCT  chapter.

He disclosed further that part of the proposed guidelines, is for  churches to disinfect their premises before reopening for services.

Churches, according to the guidelines should provide alcoholic sanitizers, temperature readers, soap and water in their premises to be supervised by medical professionals.

While Oladeji expressed hope that Sunday May 31, may be the last one  that Christians would have to worship from home, he reiterated CAN’s commitment to ensure that smaller churches  comply with the proposed guidelines.

The association, he noted has representatives across the states up to the ward level, thus ensuring compliance.

The committee also recommended to the PTF that handshaking and hugging should be avoided before, during and after service while children should worship with their parents, he said.

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