Kwara State government, on Wednesday, said worship centres may reopen from Friday, June 5, 2020, on the condition that they satisfy certain guidelines already agreed with various religious umbrella bodies in the state.

The government, however, warned that the concession for churches and mosques to reopen does not mean that the state has flattened the curve of transmission of Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision came hours after the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 held a marathon meeting with the leadership of the Muslim and Christian communities, including the Jama’atu Nasrul Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

“We are definitely not out of the woods as cases continue to rise especially because of violation of travel restrictions,” Kayode Alabi, Deputy Governor and Chairman of Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, told reporters late Wednesday in Ilorin.

The below is the full text of the press briefing:

Today, June 3rd, 2020, the Kwara State Government Technical Committee on COVID-19 held a meeting with various religious leaders and umbrella bodies, especially the Jama’atu Nasrul Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The meeting centred around whether or not to reopen the worship centres across the state, as suggested by the Federal Government. Below are the outcomes of the meeting;

“We are definitely not out of the woods as cases continue to rise especially because of violation of travel restrictions.

“It is preferred that worship centres should remain shut until it is clear that the curve of transmission has been flattened.

“However, in line with the presidential advisory and the positions of our religious umbrella bodies in Kwara State, worship centres in Kwara State may reopen from June 5 (Friday) provided they satisfy the following conditions;

“Worship centres shall be organised (by the respective head of the congregation) in such a way that one attendant is at least one metre away from the next.

“Each worship centre shall make provisions for hand washing or hand sanitisers, and infrared thermometre

“Wearing of face masks shall be mandatory for all worshippers.

“There shall be no handshaking or hugging among worshippers.

“Children remain restricted from worship centres. People above 65 or persons with underlying health conditions are urged to stay away from worship centres.

“Muslims should perform ablution from their own houses. Ablution spots are not allowed for now to avoid the spread of the virus.

“Muslim women are to stay away from mosques, as suggested by the leadership of the Muslim community in the state.

“Each worship centre is to dedicate a few minutes before service or prayers to educate attendants about COVID-19 and its dangers.

“Adequate ventilation is to be ensured at each worship centre.

“Government’s RRT shall conduct a random visit to worship centres to take samples and do temperature checks.

“Government shall hold affected religious leaders responsible for non-compliance with all COVID-19-related safety measures in their worship centres. This is as agreed by the religious umbrella bodies.

“Government demands full compliance with all protocols as failure to do so is a huge drain on public resources.

“The leadership of religious communities agreed that any worship centre that violates these provisions would be shut down and its leadership strictly held accountable.

“Finally, I am glad to inform you that we are again discharging seven of our COVID-19 patients who have twice tested negative. All the remaining patients are stable and doing well — thanks to the government’s efforts and the commitment of our healthcare officials who are doing so well to keep the flag flying.”