Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state on Friday lifted the ban on religious worship after more than a month of closure of churches, mosques and other worship centres forced by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
It is one of the latest to ease the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.
Sokoto State is another with Governor Aminu Tambuwal reducing the curfew from 10 to 8 hours.
The curfew now runs from 10pm to 6am as against 8pm to 6am.
In Katsina Sate, Governor Aminu Masari revoked the lockdown order imposed on Mani and Safana local government areas while the Edo State government has set up a committee to advise it on relaxing some of the lockdown measures currently in place.
With effect from yesterday, religious centres in Ebonyi are free to conduct services once a week, according to Information and State Orientation Commissioner Uchenna Orji.
He said in a statement that the waiver was in response to the passionate appeal made by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state.
The lifting of the ban which is to take effect from 15th May, 2020 will have religious centers conduct their worship once in a week.
The ban was imposed as part of efforts to prevent spread of the deadly Coronavirus in the state.
Despite the ban and other measures including closure of the state borders with neighbouring states, the state still recorded 9 cases of the virus.
The lifting of the ban followed weeks of pressure by some Christian faithful in the state who questioned why churches were closed while markets remained opened.
The governor announced the lifting of the ban in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Acting Commissioner Human Capital Development and Monitoring, Uchenna Orji.
But he said the worship centers would be under strict observance of COVID-19 policy and State laws.
He said that Governor David Umahi “directed that religious centres in the state do re-open for worship once a week, effective from 15th May, 2020 under attendant conditions.”
One of the conditions is that all churches will observe their service only on Sundays from 9am to 11 am.
However, the Seventh Day Adventist and Muslim faithful are to observe their services on Saturdays and Fridays respectively from 9 am – 11 am.
“No Religious Centre shall permit more than 500 people and worshipers shall observe a minimum of 2 meters social distancing from one another,” he said.
Continuing, the commissioner said:”Wearing of facemasks, washing of hands with running water and use of hand sanitizers must be strictly observed in all religious centres.
“No religious service is allowed to hold any other day other than the days specified herein and which must be in strict observance of all COVID-19 Laws and regulations.
“Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has a duty to close down any religious gathering and arrest the principal of the worship centre that violates this order.”
The Governor urged all religious bodies in the state to use the opportunity of window of worship to create awareness among their members on the protocols, policies, laws and regulations regarding COVID-19 and to pray for the State and Nigeria.
“They are also enjoined to use the opportunity to advise their members to aggressively participate in agriculture and other lawful means of livelihood. CAN leadership and Anti- COVID-19 Committee on Religious Centres are requested to please mount strict monitoring of all religious centres in the state and ensure strict compliance and discipline among them.”
Curfew now 10pm – 6am in Sokoto
The Sokoto State Government reduced the 10-hour curfew in the state by two hours daily.
The curfew now runs from 10pm to 6am as the 8pm to 6am initially imposed.
The decision was taken by the Joint Security Council and the state Task Force on Covid-19 at a meeting presided over by Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
The Chairman of the Taskforce on Covid-19, Dr Muhammad Ali Inname, who announced the decision, said it followed requests made by residents of the state.
But he warned that other guidelines on COVID-19 remain in force.
Katsina revokes lockdown order on Mani, Safana LGAs
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State yesterday revoked the lockdown order in Mani and Safana local government areas.
The lockdown order was imposed on the two areas three weeks following the confirmation of Covid-19 cases in the areas by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Mustapha Inuwa said yesterday however that the review of the situation was based on the fact that no further confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been received from the areas.
“However, the governor appealed to the people of the affected areas and the general public to continue to maintain social distancing and strictly adhere to the use of mask and other security and health guidelines to contain the spread of the pandemic,” Inuwa said in a statement.
Edo Govt plans to ease COVID-19 lockdown
On its part, the Edo State Government has set up a committee to advise it on relaxing some of the lockdown measures put in place to check the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
“As part of efforts to ease the partial lockdown, the government has set up a committee to advise it appropriately with a view to relaxing some of the measures,” Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, said yesterday in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary Ebomhiana Musa.
He said: “The state has recorded a total number of 92 cases out of the 812 tested in the three testing centers across the state.
“We intercepted seven trucks loaded with persons from the northern part of the country this week.
“Aside from the fears of the spread of COVID-19, the government is worried over the security implications.
“The influx was worrisome, as the government was being careful given the fact that Nigeria is operating a federal system of government, with free movement of citizens guaranteed by the constitution.”F