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COVID-19: Low turnout as Lagos churches reopen after 4-month closure

COVID-19: Low turnout as Lagos churches reopen after 4-month closure
August 09
17:26 2020

For many churches in Lagos, August 9, 2020, couldn’t come quick enough. After more than four months of being physically shut, the worship was with a difference on Sunday. Although many churches had moved their services online after gatherings were banned as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, for church attendees, physical attendance came with its perks, even though the advantages came with strict restrictions.

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The Lagos state government had lifted the ban on worship centres, but with strict guidelines for opening — attendance must be at 50-percent capacity; there must be provisions for regular temperature checks and hand washing, as well as compulsory wearing of face masks. Services must also not exceed one hour.

TheCable visited churches across Lagos on Sunday. While some churches didn’t open, many of those that did adhered strictly to the guidelines.

COVID-19 guidelines banner displayed in front of RCCG, Lekki parish

At St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, Ojodu, three masses held in the morning, with another fixed for evening. Worshippers were on face masks and had temperature checks. Some persons with tags bearing “COVID-19 Compliance Team” were on ground ensuring strict adherence to the protocols. There were also provisions for washing of hands.

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At Catholic Church of Mercy, Lekki, a tent was seen outside the church where records were taken as well as temperature checks, before people were allowed into the church building. According to a worshipper exiting the church, only a few people came as they weren’t yet comfortable visiting the worship centre even though they have missed it.

Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki

At Livingspring Chapel, Ikeja, only one service held. There were points for handwashing and there was also a banner showing information for worshippers on COVID-19 guidelines.

However, it was hard to tell if there were attendees above 65 years, as they have been strongly advised against attending worship services as a result of the COVID-19 mortality rate in the country — more than 900 deaths have been recorded, with many of them people aged above 50.

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At Christ Foundation Mission, International, Isheri-Olofin, Lagos, worshippers filled the hall and there was no social distancing. Although there was provision for washing of hands, many of the people inside the hall did  not use masks.

No social distancing inside this church at Isheri-Olofin

But worshippers complied with safety guidelines at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Power House, Shomolu. There was also a low turnout in the church where members thanked God for sparing their lives.

At RCCG, Kings Royal Palace, FESTAC, Abiodun Oseni, the pastor, said messages had earlier been sent to members through the church’s media platforms informing them of the protocols.

RCCG Throne of Mercy

NAN quoted Oseni, who is also the assistant pastor, as saying: “At the beginning of each service, a message is projected to inform everyone of the protocols. Nobody comes in without a face mask. When the service is on, everyone wears theirs and those who use face shields are to also use masks.

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“After each service, there’s a decontamination of the hall by the C-19 Squad before the next one commences.”

In Igando, the usher at the entrance of RCCG Throne of Mercy, prevented the reporter from entering inside the church because she said prayers were ongoing but TheCable observed that there was strict compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines inside the church.

Handwash at St Timothy Catholic Church, Ojodu

At a Celestial Church of Christ in Unity Estate, Egbeda, worhippers mixed freely with one another regardless of the safety guidelines.

Most of the churches visited had hand wash units and hand sanitiser dispensers, soaps, water and infrared thermometers.

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Lagos, which is the epicentre of the disease, has a total of 15,678 cases. There are a total of  46,140 COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

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