The task force had lifted restrictions on Monday, June 1, 2020, at religious meetings, weeks after the ban on curbing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The lifting of the restriction raised concerns among Nigerians as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase – 10,578 as of June 1.
During a press conference on Tuesday, June 2, the national PTF coordinator, Sani Aliyu, advised that Nigerians should try as hard as possible to continue to worship at home.
Aliyu said places of worship are recognized as having great potential for spreading COVID-19 infection, as demonstrated in several outbreaks around the world.
To prevent outbreaks in the country, Aliyu said the PTF has developed guidelines for the reopening of worship centers in collaboration with religious leaders in the country, guidelines he said should be used as a baseline by state governments to allow use of the centers.
He said places of worship should apply for full compliance with all aspects of the non-pharmaceutical interventions needed to protect the public from COVID-19, including, among others, ensuring the provision of running water and soap or alcohol disinfectants in all the inputs and outputs. exit points and all high-contact locations, including restrooms.
PTF recommends limiting the contact time of the congregation in places of worship to regular church and mosque services.
Churches are advised to open from 5 am to 8 pm, with each service taking no more than an hour, with a 30-minute break between services to allow time for disinfection.
For mosques, Aliyu said that only the five daily prayers and Friday services should be allowed to happen.
He said that mosques can open 15 minutes before adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, and close 10 minutes after praying for fajr, dhuhr, asr.
For Friday prayers, mosques must open 20 minutes before and 20 after prayers. Congregational prayer times, including the sermon, PTF said, should not exceed one hour.
"Islammiya schools, night watch, Sunday school and children's activities must remain suspended", Aliyu announced.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu [NACA Nigeria]
PTF also noted that religious faithful must clean, undergo temperature checks and wear masks before entering places of worship.
Aliyu said that oversight and enforcement of the guidelines will be led by the leadership of several facilities that were instructed to discourage all intimate contacts among the faithful, including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, distributing materials and sharing instruments of worship, including prayer mats. and musicals. organs, microphones, etc.
PTF also recommends that the capacity of worship centers be limited to allow physical distance of at least two meters between people, with facilities encouraged to consider the use of markings on the floor or surface to guide the distance.
The task force said the prayer sessions should be staggered to accommodate the faithful and encourage a greater opportunity for physical distance. Family members are also encouraged to stay together during religious worship.
"The places of worship should plan, if possible, separate entry and exit points, but it is also mandatory that they have measures to direct the flow of people to avoid agglomerations and violations of physical distance rules." Aliyu said.
Commercial establishments within the premises of places of worship remain closed, according to the PTF, and social gatherings before and after worship are prohibited.
Aliyu urged vulnerable individuals with underlying medical conditions and people over 65 to stay away from places of worship in order to avoid infections that could be fatal.
"It is better to stay home and worship than to enter a place of worship." he said.
The national coordinator said that places of worship that do not comply with the guidelines should not be allowed by authorities to reopen to the public.
He also said that the guidelines will be revised if problems arise.