The Federal Capital Territory Administration on Thursday issued guidelines for the reopening of places of worship as recommended by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, said the resolution was reached at the end of a meeting with religious leaders on Wednesday.
Bello said the FCT Administration recognised the importance of places of worship in social and cultural way of life.
He said places of worship had equally been proven to be major sources of easy spread of the disease, therefore, it was imperative that all places of worship adhered very strictly to the guidelines.
Bello explained that the meeting received briefings from the FCT COVID-19 Emergency Response Team on the situation of the pandemic in the FCT.
He said after extensive deliberations, the meeting agreed to adopt the guidelines as released by the PTF with regards to the reopening of places of worship in the FCT under the second phase of the ease of lockdown for the next four weeks.
The minister expressed appreciation of the FCT administration to the religious leaders for their cooperation and commitment toward a safe reopening of places of worship in the territory.
He also urged residents to use the opportunity provided by the reopening of Churches and Mosques to pray fervently for the early end to the COVID -19 pandemic.
Bello said: Following consensus, between the FCT administration and the religious leaders, the protocols guiding the reopening of places of worship in the territory are as follows:
“All places of worship must sign up to full compliance with all aspects of non- pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19.
“All places of worship must ensure the supply of running water and soap or alcohol sanitisers at entry and exit points and in all high-contact locations including bathrooms.
“Worshippers must sanitise their hands before entry, Mosques and Churches must provide temperature checks before entry and every worshipper must ensure mandatory use of face masks.”
The minister strongly discouraged all close contacts, including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship implements such as prayer mats, musical organs and microphones.
He noted that Churches and Mosques within the FCT should limit the capacity of their facilities to allow for physical distancing of at least two meters between persons.
Bello advised religious leaders to consider the use of floor and surface markings to guide distancing and also encourage people from same household to stay together.
According to him, the meeting agreed that churches are to open from 5am and close by 8pm and each service shall be for a maximum of one hour with an interval of 30 minutes in between services to allow time for disinfection.
Similarly, Bello directed mosques to open 15 minutes before call to prayer and close 10 minutes after prayers for the five prayers.
He said: “Waiting period between Adhan and Iqamah should not be more than 10 minutes.
“Prayers are to be shortened to reduce duration of contact between congregations.
“Volunteers providing support at places of worship should be limited to exact numbers needed and none should have an underlying medical condition or be above the age of 55 years.
“For Friday prayers, mosques in the FCT are to open 20 minutes before prayers and close 20 minutes after prayers.
“Total time for Friday prayers including sermons should not exceed one hour.”