Lagos Govt Directs Churches, Mosques To Suspend Crossover Events, Vigils

A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Lagos State government has directed all churches and mosques to suspend all-night services, including vigils and crossover events in the state.

This comes ahead of the annual practice in which millions of worshippers storm various religious centres for crossover services to usher in the new year.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, issued the directive on Thursday while briefing reporters at the State House in Marina, Lagos.

He stated that the curfew imposed by the Federal Government between midnight and 4am daily would be enforced.

Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that the emergency required to tame the second wave of COVID-19 would not permit public gatherings and crowding, especially in yuletide when religious centres would be holding services and vigils.

READ ALSO: Don’t Close Down Your COVID-19 Treatment Centres, PTF Begs State Govts

He said, “All over the world, Christmas period is associated with gathering, merriment and travelling, which all, sadly, contribute to the spread of the virus.

“We must now seek to minimise as much of these activities as we can, at this time. Let this Christmas be a period of sober reflection.”

“The quicker we are able to tame this raging virus, through responsible behaviour, the higher the likelihood that we will enjoy the year 2021 that is not as restrictive and challenging as 2020.

“By acting responsibly, we are not doing only ourselves a favour; we are doing other people a favour as well, especially those among us who are elderly or medically vulnerable,” the governor added.

A combination of photos showing worshippers in a church and a mosque.

 

No Justification For Socialising

As part of the measures to curtail the spread of the virus, he strongly advised residents to cancel all non-essential travels, regardless of destinations.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also directed all in-bound international passengers arriving into the country through Lagos to subject themselves to COVID-19 test on the seventh day of their arrival.

According to him, all business and social establishments in Lagos must strictly enforce the “No Mask, No Entry” policy.

The governor insisted that there was no justification for socialising in the period of public health crisis without exercising caution.

He, therefore, warned those who were bent on flouting the state’s regulations that the government would bring the weight of the laws on them.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who just recovered from the disease thanked the frontline workers and medical personnel who attended to him during his period of isolation.

“I received very dedicated and competent care from the Lagos State COVID-19 Treatment Team, and I am extremely proud of the work they do,” he said.

Yuletide: Lagos Asks Churches, Mosques To Enforce COVID-19 Protocols, Bans Carnivals

A combination of photos showing a cross and some Muslim faithful in a mosque.

 

The Lagos State government has asked churches, mosques, and other places of worship to enforce the existing COVID-19 protocols amid the rising cases reported recently in the state.

It asked them to ensure all gatherings must not exceed two hours with attendance not more than 50 per cent of the maximum capacity of the venue.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, issued the directives in a statement personally signed by him on Friday.

He also declared that concerts, carnivals and street parties have banned in all parts of the state until further notice.

According to the governor, night clubs have not been allowed to open yet and all night clubs in the state should be shut down indefinitely with immediate effect.

He explained that the directives became important as all local governments in Lagos have begun to record an increase in COVID-19 cases.

A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Photo: [email protected]

 

Governor Sanwo-Olu, however, noted that the situation was not peculiar to Lagos alone, noting that the entire country was also seeing a rise in the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“Of every 100 tests that we now perform, an average of 10 turn out to be positive. This is an increase from the five per hundred recorded in September, but lower than our peak in August which was between 20 and 30 per hundred.

“This suggests the existence of active community transmission and represents the very likely possibility of the emergence of the second wave in Lagos State,” he said.

The governor added, “This second wave calls for a full re-awakening of caution and precaution. The complacency that crept in over the last few months as a result of our early interventions when cases started to decline from our peak in August, must now give way to an abundance of vigilance.”

As part of public health directives, he ordered the closure of all public and private schools in Lagos indefinitely and asked all public servants from Grade Level 14 and below to work from home for the next 14 days starting from Monday next week – in the first instance.

While Governor Sanwo-Olu noted that emergency workers and first responders were exempted, he stated that the 12am to 4am curfew imposed by the Federal Government remained in place.

He also directed that guests and service providers at any event with high temperature (above 37.5 degrees) should be politely turned back and referred to paramedics or the emergency response team.

Ekiti Govt Lifts Curfew, Asks Churches, Mosques To Open Without Restrictions

A file photo of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi.

 

The Ekiti State government has lifted the curfew imposed on the state with effect from 6am on Sunday.

Mr Akin Omole, the Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation in the state, announced this in a statement on Saturday.

He explained that the decision to lift the curfew was taken after an assessment of the security situation and the restoration of relative peace in the state.

According to him, the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, also approved the lifting of the restrictions placed on religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic with effect from tomorrow.

“While churches and mosques are now free to open for worship without restrictions, worshippers are advised to continue adhering with the COVID-19 protocol, which includes wearing face-masks, maintaining social distancing, and proper hand-washing or hand-sanitising before joining respective congregations,” the statement said.

Omole asked the residents to remain law-abiding and go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestation.

He gave an assurance that the government would leave no stone unturned towards ensuring the safety of the lives and property of the people in the state.

The commissioner, however, advised the people to be vigilant and promptly report suspicious movement to relevant authorities.

Govt Postpones Reopening Of Churches, Mosques In Ekiti

A map of Ekiti, a state in South-West Nigeria.

 

The Ekiti State government has postponed the reopening of churches and mosques in the state until August 14 as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state.

This was announced in a statement by the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, in the state.

She explained that the decision to shift the date for the reopening of worship centres in Ekiti was taken to enable the stakeholders have enough time to meet the government’s conditions.

Yaya-Kolade, who is also the Chairman of the Committee on Reopening of Worship Places in Ekiti, noted a communique by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

She believes the statement which emanated from the Christian group is suggestive of the fact that worship centres are not ready to comply with the conditions set out by the government.

According to the commissioner, the government is committed to its constitutional responsibility for the safety of lives and properties of residents in the state.

She stressed that for worship centres to reopen, the government will take seriously, fumigation of the premises, social distancing, provision of infrared thermometer, hours of worship.

Yaya-Kolade insisted that it was important to enforce the age limit, saying children between the age of one to 12 and adults above the age of 65 years should be exempted from congregational worships.

Ekiti reported five new cases of (COVID-19) on Thursday, bringing to 72 the total number of confirmed cases in the state.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 30 patients were receiving treatment at the government’s isolation centre, 40 others have been discharged while two persons have lost the battle to COVID-19.

Read the statement by the commissioner below:

Churches, Mosques, Event Centres In Lagos Remain Closed, Says Sanwo-Olu

A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Lagos State government has insisted that there is no definite time yet for the reopening of churches, mosques, and event centres in the state.

While giving an update on the disease outbreak in the state on Friday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu noted that worship centres would remain closed until further notice.

He said, “Places of worship will remain closed in Lagos State, until further notice. All social and events centres, and social clubs, will also remain closed, for now.

“However, a list of social clubs with verifiable Trustees and Governing Board that have met strict guidelines will be released from time to time for supervised openings, as approved by the Incident Commander on the recommendation of the Lagos State Safety Commission.”

 

‘No Mask, No Service’

The governor, who stated that the nationwide daily curfew remained in force in the state from 10pm to 4am, announced that the state government has made some changes to its COVID-19 protocols.

According to him, hairdressing salons that have been accredited by the government may begin to open strictly on an appointment-only basis, with a maximum occupancy of 40 per cent of the total floor space at any given time.

Governor Sanwo-Olu added that communal sports facilities and use of recreational parks in residential estates would be permitted to operate, but with a maximum of 20 persons at any given time.

He explained that this was to promote well-being and appealed to the Residents’ Associations to strictly adhere to the guidelines in the interest of public health.

On the proposed resumption of local flight operations, the governor said, “The Federal Government has approved the reopening of the Airport in Lagos for domestic operations from Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

“The relevant Federal Agencies are putting out additional information to guide intending passengers and airport users; I enjoin everyone to look out for this information.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu, therefore, reminded the residents that the use of face masks in public places was mandatory.

“We are asking offices and business and commercial premises to refuse entry to any persons not wearing masks, in line with the Presidential Task Force directive on ‘No mask, no entry. No mask, no service,” he said.

El-Rufai Orders Reopening Of Churches, Mosques In Kaduna

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

 

 

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has ordered the reopening of worship centres across the state.

He, however, directed that churches should conduct services only on Sundays and Mosques would hold Ju’mat prayers only Fridays for the time being.

The governor gave the directives on Tuesday in a state-wide broadcast, saying the reopening of worship centres would be subjected to compliance with safety guidelines and stipulations.

He also approved the reopening of public transport operations under the conditions that the operators must reduce capacity to not more than two passengers per row and not more than 50% of capacity.

Governor El-Rufai announced that the amended Quarantine Order would take effect from Wednesday, June 10.

He approved that supermarkets and providers of personal services such as hairdressing and barbers’ shops should reopen, while hotels can open fully but their restaurants and bars must offer only room services.

Under the conditions, the governor lifted the restriction of intra-state movement but subject to a night-time curfew of 8pm-5am, adding that businesses can reopen but should provide thermometers for temperature checks, sanitisers or handwashing equipment, and physical distancing measures within their facilities.

He noted that the working hours would be 9am-3pm daily, stressing that public servants would resume work in phases which would be announced by the Head of Service.

Governor El-Rufai insisted that with the present stage of COVID-19 containment, it was still considered unsafe for markets and schools to reopen.

He said the government would keep engaging with the relevant stakeholders on the matter to determine the appropriate timing and conditions precedent.

The governor, therefore, urged the residents to take responsibility and comply with the safety measures.

He warned that the relaxation of the quarantine order would be reversed in the event of a spike in COVID-19 infections or unsatisfactory compliance level with the conditions, and total quarantine would be re-imposed to preserve health and protect lives.

On border closure, Governor El-Rufai explained that government officials would continue to visit state boundaries to reduce unauthorised interstate travel.

He added that within the state, security checkpoints would be allowed only to enforce compliance with the night-time curfew.

The governor said the government would continue to implement the policy of repatriating almajirai back to their parents to afford them due care and the right to free education.

Mosques, Churches In Lagos To Reopen From June 19 And 21 – Sanwo-Olu

A file photo of Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
A file photo of Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

 

 

The Lagos State government has reviewed some of the protocols being used to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday at the Government House in Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced that the government would be relaxing the measures in the coming days.

He explained that this included the approval to reopen religious centres in the next two weeks, although it would come with some conditions.

“Dear Lagosians, we have completed an extended first phase and now, we are entering the second phase of our easing of the lockdown, in line with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and NCDC protocols on ease of lockdown,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He added, “From 14 days’ time, precisely from June 19 for our Muslim worshippers and from June 21 for our Christian worshippers; we will be allowing all of our religious bodies to open at a maximum of 40 per cent of their capacity and we will be working with them as expected.”

For places of worship with large crowds, the governor insisted that worshippers at such centres must not exceed 500 during a session.

He, however, noted that the government has allowed authorities to conduct more than one service but must maintain proper hygiene of the environment.

According to Sanwo-Olu, only Friday and Sunday services should be held for now and all other regular services, including night vigils, must be put on hold.

“As we all know, mass gathering during COVID-19 pandemic can be of serious public health consequences and there are documented evidence that mass gathering can increase the spread of this virus,” he stated.

The governor noted that the PTF had on Monday released a set of guidelines to further ease the lockdown but asked the state governments to build on the foundational guidelines issued and implement them to existing local realities.

In view of this, he announced that hotels and other hospitality businesses could reopen, and restaurants outside hotels were permitted to open for takeaway services only.

He explained that the government has engaged critical stakeholders in the last two weeks, including traditional rulers, various religious leaders, and members of the organised private sector in the state.

Sanwo-Olu said, “We have now granted offices and private businesses (excluding the prohibited one); all of our organised private sector and manufacturing concerns will now operate and open from 7am-6pm.

“There is a strategy to encourage them run shifts and other flexible hours within their facilities.”

He also announced that all banks can now begin full operation, adding that government officers on Levels 13 and 14 should resume work while those on Levels 1 to 12 would stay back home until further notice.

Churches, Mosques To Resume Activities In Cross River, Says Ayade

Easter: Ayade Calls For Peace, Prayers For Leaders
A file photo of Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.

 

 

The Cross River State government has lifted the ban on public worship earlier imposed as part of the measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

Governor Ben Ayade gave the directive on Wednesday in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita.

According to him, the directive will take effect from Sunday, May 24, but the use of face masks remains compulsory for all worshippers.

The governor ordered that worships in Churches and Mosques should be permitted but limited to their sitting capacities.

He also asked the authorities in various places of worship to provide buckets for worshippers to wash their hands or sanitisers in the absence of water.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Eight More COVID-19 Deaths, Total Now 200

Governor Ayade thanked the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Christians of various denominations, as well as the Muslim community in Cross River for their support and cooperation during the period of the ban.

He noted that the understanding and cooperation of religious leaders contributed immensely in keeping the state free of COVID-19 so far.

According to the governor, the decision to lift the ban on public worship follows the consideration of the ‘spiritual economy’ and in response to appeals by religious leaders in the state.

Virus-Hit Iran Reopens Mosques For Holy Ramadan Nights

This picture taken on April 25, 2020, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan shows a view from outside the closed Imamzadeh Saleh in the Iranian capital Tehran’s Shemiran district, as all mosques and places of worship are closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: ATTA KENARE / AFP)

 

In spite of their fears over the coronavirus, hundreds of pious Iranians took advantage of the temporary opening of mosques on Wednesday to pray at one of the holiest times of the year.

The mask-clad faithful for the most part adhered to social distancing guidelines as they sat in designated areas of Reihanat al-Hussein mosque, in west Tehran.

Clutching their own prayer mats and Korans, they showed up with their families, including a couple with a baby, and appeared to be in high spirits.

Worshippers spilled out into grounds outside the mosque were disinfected by a sanitary worker in a hazmat suit who sprayed them as he walked among them.

But some of the gaps between those seated at the back appeared to be too close for comfort, and the Basij militia were on hand to ensure they kept apart.

“Of course, everybody is worried about the disease, even my own family,” said one of the worshippers who gave his name only as Mahmoudi.

“When I decided to come they were concerned about me and I promised them to respect the directives,” he said.

“So I came and saw that everyone is respecting the (social) distancing, otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed and I’d have gone back home.”

Iran reopened the mosques for two hours from midnight for Laylat al-Qadr, a high point during the fasting month of Ramadan that marks when the Koran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed.

The Islamic republic shut its mosques and shrines in March as part of its efforts to contain the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of COVID-19.

The first cases emerged in the Shiite holy city of Qom on February 19 and spread rapidly to all 31 of the country’s provinces.

It has gone on to claim nearly 6,800 lives in Iran.

‘Special ceremony’

President Hassan Rouhani, whose government has faced criticism for being slow to react to the crisis, praised worshippers for abiding by health guidelines.

“There were concerns about how people would follow health guidelines if mosques were opened, but last night, you found that it was a special ceremony,” he said on Wednesday.

“Wherever people participated, they followed all the instructions,” he said in televised remarks.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki had sounded a note of caution on Tuesday as he announced the special reopening for three out of the next five nights.

And on Wednesday he admitted it had been a “difficult and risky decision… criticised by some of my colleagues”.

“Everywhere people observed the instructions, except in one county where, contrary to our protocols, tea was offered to the participants,” he said.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said another 50 people died of coronavirus and 1,958 were infected in the previous 24 hours, taking the overall tolls to 6,783 dead and 112,725 infected.

The Qadr ceremony lasts three nights because the exact time of the revelation of the words of God is unknown.

Those at the first gathering overnight at Tehran’s Al-Hussein mosque appeared to be exalted at the chance to finally pray after being shut out for more than two months.

“We have brought masks and gloves and everything. I think that if we follow the security and health protocols, then nothing will happen to us and we will be able to continue with this ceremony,” said Masoumeh, a housewife.

For Amir Hosein, a private sector worker, it was a chance not to be missed.

“These nights are special for people and I think the government wasn’t able to cancel these ceremonies because we go out and pray together: that is the whole joy of this ceremony.”

AFP

Iran To Reopen Mosques As Lockdown Eases – Rouhani

This picture taken on April 25, 2020 during the Muslim holy motnh of Ramadan shows a view from outside the closed Imamzadeh Saleh in the Iranian capital Tehran’s Shemiran district, as all mosques and places of worship are closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. ATTA KENARE / AFP.

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said mosques would reopen across large parts of the country Monday, after they were closed in early March amid the Middle East’s deadliest novel coronavirus outbreak.

Rouhani said 132 counties, around one third of the country’s administrative divisions, would “reopen their mosques as of tomorrow”.

“Social distancing is more important than collective prayer,” he added, arguing that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only “recommended”.

The targeted counties are “low-risk”, Rouhani said in a televised meeting of the country’s virus taskforce.

He said the committee was also mulling reopening schools by May 16 to allow for a month of classes before the summer break.

The new coronavirus has killed more than 6,150 and infected over 96,440 in Iran since it announced its first cases in mid-February.

Rouhani claimed hospital visits over potential infections were “much lower” compared to recent weeks.

READ ALSO: Russia Reports More Than 10,000 New COVID-19 Infections

Iran on Saturday reported its lowest daily toll of new infections since March 10.

Experts and officials both in Iran and abroad have cast doubts over the country’s COVID-19 figures, saying the real number of cases could be much higher than reported.

The Islamic republic has tried to contain the spread of the virus by shutting universities, cinemas, stadiums and other public spaces since March.

But it has allowed a phased reopening of its economy since April 11, arguing that the sanctions-hit country cannot afford to remain shut down.

Only “high-risk” businesses like gyms and barbershops remain closed.

“We will continue the reopenings calmly and gradually,” Rouhani said.

Yet he warned that Iran should prepare for “bad scenarios” too, saying “this situation may continue into the summer”.

AFP

Muslims Struggle To Observe Ramadan In Cyclone-Hit Mozambique Island

Rain, which is believed to be the beginning of Tropical cyclone Idai coming from central Mozambique, falls in the flooded districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in southern Malawi, on March 15, 2019.
AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP

 

Muslims in the cyclone-ravaged Mozambican island of Ibo are struggling to observe the holy month of Ramadan as most mosques were destroyed and food is in short supply.

The island on the Quirimbas archipelago off Mozambique’s northeastern coast was one of the regions worst hit when Cyclone Kenneth struck last month packing winds of over 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour.

Residents of the island, where the majority of the population is Muslim, were left without shelter and with few places to worship with estimates that 90 percent of buildings were damaged.

At one of the few mosques still standing, half of the roof was blown away by wind and prayer rugs were damaged by flooding.

Worshippers gather in one surviving section to say prayers. Female worshippers endure the harsh sun praying outdoors.

“Very few people are attending prayers because mosques were destroyed,” said Muzasufar Abakari, head of the village of Guludo.

Residents search for food to break the fast and survive mainly on high-energy biscuits handed out by aid agencies.

“As Muslims we observe Ramadan but there is no food to eat. On Friday (holy day) there was no-one because there is no wall at the mosque,” said Abakari.

The cyclone killed at least 41 people across northern Mozambique and displaced thousand.

Some people on Ibo have been sleeping in damaged mosques.

“People have been sleeping here because their houses were destroyed. With nothing – from clothes to food – God willing our prayers are answered and we will receive help,” said imam Saidi Cassabo, from Kumwamba village.

Before the storm, Ibo island, a popular tourist destination, was a haven of golden beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and lush greenery.

UK Police Arrest Two Men After Attacks On Five Mosques

UK To Boost African Partnership With £30m

 

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of “racially aggravated criminal damage” after windows at five mosques in Britain’s second city Birmingham were smashed earlier this week, police said Friday.

A 34-year-old man handed himself into a police station and a 38-year-old was “detained by members of the community,” West Midlands Police said in a statement.

“This is a significant step forward in our enquiries. However, the investigation continues into the motive for the incidents,” Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward said.

“It remains incredibly important that we unite together against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear,” he added.

READ ALSO: Catholic Priest Stabbed During Mass At Canada’s Biggest Church

Witnesses reported seeing a man wielding a sledgehammer smashing in windows at two mosques overnight Wednesday to Thursday and three other mosques in the city were found similarly vandalised.

Some 22 percent of the Birmingham population described themselves as Muslim in the 2011 census.

British national police chiefs last week announced officers were providing “reassurance patrols” around mosques in the immediate aftermath of a deadly gun rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Anti-racism groups have warned that Islamophobia is on the rise in Britain and spurring a spike in far-right activity in the country.

AFP