The FCT Administration has issued guidelines for the reopening of places of worship,with a mandate that non- pharmaceutical interventions , like running water, soap and sanitizers required to protect the public from COVID-19 be provided in entry, exit and strategic points in worship places.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Anthony Ogunleye Says the guideline is a product of consensus between the FCT Administration and the religious leaders in the territory.
The statement says temperature checks at entry points and use of face masks are mandatory.
Similarly, shaking of hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship implements including prayer mats, musical organs, microphones are discouraged.
The statement further encourages Religious leaders to consider the use of floor markings to guide distancing as well as encourage people from same household to stay together during worship.
The statement also stipulates that Churches are to open from 5am and close by 8pm ,while each service shall be for a maximum of 1 hour with an interval of 30 mins in between services to allow time for disinfection.
On the other hand, Mosques are to open 15 mins before Adhan and close 10 mins after for the five prayers. Waiting period between Adhan and Iqamah should not be more than 10 minutes.
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 1 hour.
While the statement further advocates that worship places make provisions for entry and exit points to avoid breach of physical distancing rules; businesses,religious visits to homes by clerics ,Islamiyah schools, All-Night Vigils, Sunday Schools and children activities in worship places remain suspended.
According to the statement, Vulnerable individuals, those above 55 years and those with impaired immune systems such as HIV, cancer, heart diseases, are advised to stay at home.
For environmental hygiene purposes, windows are to be opened, open air services encouraged, while Churches and mosques are advised to avoid the use of carpets to allow easy and regular disinfection of floors and furniture.
The statement which further calls for an up -to- date record of staffs and attendees for easy contact tracing, directs that Worshippers experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough, shortness of breath and those noted to have high temperature on arrival at the place of worship are to be excluded from participating.
The FCT minister in the statement who enjoins residents to adhered to these guidelines to minimize cases of COVID 19 transmission and fatalities in the territory,also calls for fervent prayer for the early end of the pandemic.