Covid-19: Two states have fully eased lockdown, one set to adjust curfew duration
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state on Friday lifted the ban on religious worship after more than a month of closure of churches, mosques and other worship centres forced by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
It is one of the latest to ease the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.
Sokoto State is another with Governor Aminu Tambuwal reducing the curfew from 10 to 8 hours.
The curfew now runs from 10pm to 6am as against 8pm to 6am.
In Katsina Sate, Governor Aminu Masari revoked the lockdown order imposed on Mani and Safana local government areas while the Edo State government has set up a committee to advise it on relaxing some of the lockdown measures currently in place.
With effect from yesterday, religious centres in Ebonyi are free to conduct services once a week, according to Information and State Orientation Commissioner Uchenna Orji.
He said in a statement that the waiver was in response to the passionate appeal made by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state.
The lifting of the ban which is to take effect from 15th May, 2020 will have religious centers conduct their worship once in a week.
The ban was imposed as part of efforts to prevent spread of the deadly Coronavirus in the state.
Despite the ban and other measures including closure of the state borders with neighbouring states, the state still recorded 9 cases of the virus.
The lifting of the ban followed weeks of pressure by some Christian faithful in the state who questioned why churches were closed while markets remained opened.
The governor announced the lifting of the ban in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Acting Commissioner Human Capital Development and Monitoring, Uchenna Orji.
But he said the worship centers would be under strict observance of COVID-19 policy and State laws.
He said that Governor David Umahi “directed that religious centres in the state do re-open for worship once a week, effective from 15th May, 2020 under attendant conditions.”
One of the conditions is that all churches will observe their service only on Sundays from 9am to 11 am.
However, the Seventh Day Adventist and Muslim faithful are to observe their services on Saturdays and Fridays respectively from 9 am – 11 am.
“No Religious Centre shall permit more than 500 people and worshipers shall observe a minimum of 2 meters social distancing from one another,” he said.
Continuing, the commissioner said:”Wearing of facemasks, washing of hands with running water and use of hand sanitizers must be strictly observed in all religious centres.
“No religious service is allowed to hold any other day other than the days specified herein and which must be in strict observance of all COVID-19 Laws and regulations.
“Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has a duty to close down any religious gathering and arrest the principal of the worship centre that violates this order.”
The Governor urged all religious bodies in the state to use the opportunity of window of worship to create awareness among their members on the protocols, policies, laws and regulations regarding COVID-19 and to pray for the State and Nigeria.
“They are also enjoined to use the opportunity to advise their members to aggressively participate in agriculture and other lawful means of livelihood. CAN leadership and Anti- COVID-19 Committee on Religious Centres are requested to please mount strict monitoring of all religious centres in the state and ensure strict compliance and discipline among them.”
Furthermore, the Sokoto State Government reduced the 10-hour curfew in the state by two hours daily.
The curfew now runs from 10pm to 6am as the 8pm to 6am initially imposed.
The decision was taken by the Joint Security Council and the state Task Force on Covid-19 at a meeting presided over by Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
The Chairman of the Taskforce on Covid-19, Dr Muhammad Ali Inname, who announced the decision, said it followed requests made by residents of the state.
But he warned that other guidelines on COVID-19 remain in force.