FCTA adopts PTF guidelines on re-opening of worship places

The Federal Capital Territory Administration yesterday adopted the Presidential Task Force COVID-19 guidelines for the reopening of worship centres in the territory.


According to a statement signed by the FCT minister’s Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye and made available to journalists,  the decision was reached at a meeting held between the FCTA and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the League of FCT Imams Initiative to review the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, particularly as they concern places of worship.

The statement noted that after extensive deliberation, the meeting unanimously agreed to adopt the guidelines as released by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regards to the re-opening of places of worship in the FCT under the second phase of the ease of lockdown for the next four weeks.

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In his speech, the minister expressed the appreciation of the FCT Administration to the religious leaders for their cooperation and commitment towards a safe re-opening of places of worship in the territory.

He also urged residents to use the opportunity provided by the re-opening of churches and mosques to pray fervently for the early end to the COVID- -19 pandemic.

However, the religious leaders expressed their appreciation to the FCT Administration for always consulting and taking into consideration the opinions of religious organisations on important societal issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting also acknowledged that the situation of COVID-19 in the FCT is still at a very critical stage and recognizes that there is the danger that if the established protocols are not adhered to, cases of those infected and fatalities will increase.

The protocols guiding the re-opening of places of worship in the territory stipulate that 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, ensuring the supply of running water and soap/alcohol sanitisers at entry and exit points, and in all high-contact locations including bathrooms.

Worshippers must sanitise their hands before entry. Provision of temperature checks before entry. Mandatory use of face masks. Strongly discourage all close contact including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship implements including prayer mats, musical organs and microphones. 

Churches and mosques within the FCT must limit the capacity of their facilities to allow for physical distancing of at least two meters between persons.

Religious leaders are encouraged to consider the use of floor/surface markings to guide distancing and also encourage people from same household to stay together. 

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, while the leadership of the mosques/churches will be responsible for full compliance.

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.

Mosques are to open 15 minutes before Adhan and close 10 minutes after prayers for the five prayers. 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.

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.

Islamiyah schools, all-night vigils, Sunday schools and children activities are to remain suspended. For mosques, only the five daily prayers and Friday prayer services are allowed.

Similarly, mass gatherings that make compliance with physical distancing impossible are not allowed even as payer sessions are advised to be staggered if necessary, to encourage greater opportunity for physical distancing. 

Worshippers are encouraged to sign up for preferred service time and virtual worship option should be made available.

More so, churches and mosques are advised to make provisions for separate entry and exit points and measures should be taken to direct the flow of people to avoid crowding and breach of physical distancing rules.

There should be no social gatherings either before or after worship; and business outlets within the church or mosque premises should remain closed.

Vulnerable individuals such as those aged 55 years and above, those with impaired immune systems (e.g. HIV, cancer treatment) and underlying co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease are hereby advised to stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance such as drive-in services.

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