Ondo govt lifts ban on religious worship, issues guidelines for schools’ reopening

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The Ondo State Government has finally given the nod for religious houses to begin full activities, provided they adhere strictly to measures for the prevention of Covid-19.

A copy of a Guidelines for Covid-19 Prevention, dated September 7, 2020, by the Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on Covid-19, sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, stated that churches and mosques will now be able to meet all the days of the week, as they may choose, within the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hitherto, the guidelines restricted church services to only on Sundays with strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

But the new guidelines stated that “churches and mosques can hold their activities any day of the week(Sunday to Saturday) up to three times a week, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for not more than 2 hours on any occasion, provided they adhere strictly to all public health guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19 on each occasion.”

The guidelines also allowed churches to hold conventions and similar gatherings for three consecutive days in the day time provided they adhere to strict public health guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19.

“Vigils are totally prohibited until further notice,” the guidelines further stated, placing a ban on outdoor activities such as crusades until further notice.

“Not more than 50% of the capacity of the building of the church or mosque or any religious body must be filled during any programme,” the guidelines stated.

The guidelines also retained the use of face masks, hand washing and use of hand sanitisers at the worship centres.

For schools, the government fixed September 14 as the date for the resumption of schools for JSS 3 students.

September 7-13 will be used for preparing the schools to receive students.

The JSS 3 students will begin their revision from September 14 to 18, while the final examination will hold from September 19 to October 4.

No resumption schedule has been reached for primary schools and other classes.

However, the state government has agreed that state and privately-owned tertiary institutions would resume tentatively on the 2nd of November, while federal institutions were directed to await directives from the Federal Ministry of Education.

However, before any school would announce its date of resumption, it must obtain certification of safety from the state government and in compliance with the public health guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19 and such approvals would be in written form from the relevant state government agency.

Public and private businesses including markets have also been officially opened, provided there is compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.

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The new guidelines have also lifted the ban on bars and nightclubs, as they are now allowed to operate between 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Social events such as parties, burials and weddings must get permissions from the government before they would be allowed to hold, to ensure compliance with the relevant guidelines.

The state government also warned political parties to ensure they adhere to the COVID-19 protocols as they engage in campaigns and other political activities ahead of the 2020 governorship election slated for October 10.

No fewer than 32 persons have died of COVID-19 in Ondo State. It has recorded a total of 1561 confirmed cases out of which 1398 have been treated and discharged, while 131 are still on admission.



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