Onyedi Gabriel, PortHarcourt
Any wedding ceremony that violates new guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rivers State will attract N10million fine, the state government has said.
Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said the guidelines were approved by the State Executive Council in a meeting presided over by Governo Nyesom Wike.
He said prospective couples would be required to apply to the state governor through the Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation.
He said such application must be accompanied with information of the venue of the ceremony, names, addresses and phones numbers of attendees to make contact tracing easy.
He added that, henceforth, those seeking to bury their loved ones would also be expected to include names, addresses and phone numbers of those to attend such funerals in their applications.
Nsirim said government would not grant approval to any application without names, addresses and phone numbers.
He said marriages would not have more than 50 guests, including family members, who must wear face masks and adhere strictly to social distancing of not less than two meters.
According to him, while church weddings must be conducted between 9am and 12noon, traditional marriages should be held between 4pm and 7pm.
The commissioner said venues of marriages must have provisions for running water and soap at three points and the venue decontaminated after the event.
Nsirim said after-wedding receptions were prohibited under the guidelines to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
He said, “All weddings/marriages have an attendance limit of 50 people. The names, addresses and phone number of all attendees have to be made available with the application to enable quick contact tracing, if the need arises.
“Soap and running water have to be kept at the entrance to the venue in not less than three places while all attendees are to wear face masks and maintain social distancing of not less than two meters.
“Church weddings are to be conducted between 9am and 12noon, while traditional weddings are to be conducted between 4pm and 7pm. Reception ceremonies are not permitted.
“A representative of the Ministry would be present to observe the event. A fine of N10,000,000 is to be paid by anyone that puts people at risk by breaking this regulation.”