The governments of three Nigerian northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Gombe have suspended the COVID-19 lockdown, and ordered the reopening of churches and mosques.
The latest announcement came from the Adamawa State government after both Borno and Gombe states had earlier ordered the reopening of locked up places for normal activities and business transactions to begin.
Announcing its decision to lift the ban placed on religious congregations across the state with immediate effect on Thursday, the Adamawa State said this would allow religious bodies to have their normal worship and services.
Humwashi Wonosikou, the press secretary to Governor Umaru Fintiri, who made this known in a statement on Thursday, said, all religious leaders are, however, expected to put in place preventive and precautionary measures in their various worship centres in order to contain the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus in the state.
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He said in the statement: “Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has eased the restriction on worship places and social gatherings earlier imposed on the state following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Churches, mosques and the international cattle markets under lockdown can now reopen,” while he also announced the discharge of five COVID-19 patients from the state isolation centres after testing negative for the virus.
Similarly, in Gombe, the government who had on Wednesday, April 22 announced a dusk to dawn curfew across the State to contain further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, said on Thursday, it was calling it off.
Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, said the religious gatherings can resume in places of worship with strict adherence to social distancing policy shortly after a meeting with religious leaders at the Government House.
According to the governor, the restriction imposed by the state government on religious gatherings and social activities had yielded results and had helped to contain community spread of the virus.
He said the religious leaders had given assurances that they would comply with all protocols of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the COVID-19, as he ordered the opening of mosques and churches across the state.
Governor Yahaya, however, said that the state’s special task force on the COVID-19 protocols would train first aid teams of all religious groups in the state, while he warned that failure of the religious organisations to comply with the protocols on social distancing, use of face masks, frequent hand washing with soap and water would lead to re-imposition of the ban.
Likewise, chairman of the task force on COVID-19, Professor Idris Mohammed, appealed to state residents to ensure compliance with the directives and protocols, adding that the task force would train selected members of religious organisations who would in turn step down the training to others to create more awareness on preventive measures.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Borno State government had called-off the lockdown in the state three weeks ago after the state recorded its COVID-19 index case.
In a statement released to this effect Wednesday night, the Deputy Governor and state Chairman, COVID-19 Response Committee, Usman Kadafur, said the purpose of ordering a lockdown had been achieved.
According to him: “The lockdown is being suspended indefinitely to study the situation for the time being, however, where the situation escalates, the government should revert to the status quo.
“The use of facemasks by the public be made mandatory and enforcible.
“Government, traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders, and opinion leaders should enforce social distancing, especially in public gatherings/worship places.
“Henceforth, Juma’at prayers and five daily prayers shall be observed in all mosques as recommended by Borno State Council of Ulamas in strict adherence with the social distancing and the face mask.
“All churches shall conduct church services as recommended by the Christian Association of Nigeria, Borno Chapter in strict adherence to social distancing and use of facemasks.”
The states also gave conditions for public transportation, sales of liquor, amongst others while civil servants from grades 1-12 were asked to continue to work from home expect otherwise directed.