Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has directed the state’s Task Force on COVID-19 to open worship centres that ran foul of measures imposed by the state government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
He, however, urged the violators to retrace their steps as his administration derived no pleasure in shutting down churches.
Diri gave the directive on Thursday at an enlarged meeting with religious leaders in the state.
He charged the religious leaders to partner actively and spiritually with his administration to avoid a rise of the pandemic through conscious awareness on the threat of the virus to their congregation.
His Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as having expressed concern over the daily update from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control with the state recording 54 fresh cases on Tuesday.
Announcing fresh guidelines for churches to adhere to, Diri demanded that all hands had to be on the deck to curtail the spread of the virus, such as suspending mid-week activities, including gatherings at home cells.
The governor said, “All mid-week activities in all churches remain suspended till the end of COVID-19, including gatherings at home cells.
“For Sunday worship, hand sanitisers or running water and soap must be provided at the entrance of all churches.
“Churches having multiple services should observe 30 minutes between services to avoid clustering of people. The essence is that we should not have a gathering of people that will easily transmit the pandemic.
“May I also advise that the mega churches should have their own monitoring team to lighten the job of the state COVID-19 task force.”
Diri stressed that all guidelines must be strictly complied with as he has the responsibility of implementation of the guidelines for the health benefit of the people.
Responding on behalf of the clerics, the Bishop of Niger Delta West Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, expressed satisfaction with the leadership of the governor in addressing and curtailing the spread of the virus since its outbreak in the state.
Also speaking, the immediate past Special Adviser on Religious Matters, Pastor Samuel John-Peters, reaffirmed the role of the various church leaders to assist greatly in the fight against the pandemic until it is terminated.