By Onome Oghenetega
The Delta State Government has lifted the restriction order placed on worship centres across the state over the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the government insisted that religious centres and their followers must ensure appropriate social distancing and respiratory hygiene.
It said keeping with the directive during service will to curtail the spread of the coronavirus through such gatherings.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had earlier placed a restriction order of not more than 100, 50 or 20 worshippers during service
But the state commissioner for information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, while briefing journalists said such restriction had been lifted by the state government but insisted that religious centres must adhered to the new directive by the government.
He said churches are now allowed to hold services on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday as against the earlier directive.
Aniagwu said, “From the last time we issued some directives on partial relaxation of the lockdown, we have taken steps to ensure that religious places of worship including Christians and Muslims can worship without having a congregation that can jeopardise the interest of our people.
“We have now removed the ceiling on 100, 50 or 20 worshippers but if they must congregate, they must observe proper social distancing in their places of worship whether it is in the church or in the mosque.
“We do not want where people will gather and cluster and because we needed to have as many people to worship God and also pray, we have allowed the Christians to hold as much as three services in a week in this case we have approved Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Muslims, when they need to worship, will also observe social distancing but in the case of the upcoming Muslim festival they have on their own agreed to worship from home as they cannot guarantee appropriate social distancing during the festival.
“They have asked their members to pray from home for the state and country.”
The commissioner, speaking on efforts by the state government to revived the economy, said government has asked contractors handling various projects across the state to return to site so as to ensure that such projects do not suffer on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aniagwu noted that the state was desirous of opening up the economy for growth activities despite fighting the pandemic which had slowed down the economic activities considerably.
“The issues of COVID-19 and the challenges it posses to our economy and other economies of the world dominated public discussions and to that extent, it has greatly impacted developments particularly on infrastructure and also our social behaviours.
“But as a government in Delta, we have examined the need for us to make progress even as we continue to take steps to fight the pandemic.
“We are very much determined to continue to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and sustain our efforts at curbing the spread of the virus in our state”, he explained.
He emphasised that the state was determined to ensure that different protocols of regular washing of hands, use of sanitisers, wearing of facemasks, maintaining of social distancing and good respiratory hygiene were adhered to by residents of the state.
The information commissioner added, “As a government we have taken certain decisions with a view to ensuring that our development plans are not jeopardised entirely and to that extent, we have asked that contractors, particularly those involved in road construction should go back for site now that the rains are not disturbing yet.
“The Commissioner for Works is already moving round and has been able to inform us that a number of the contractors are busy at their different sites because we don’t want to suspend development because of COVID-19.”