As the second phase of eased lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic ends today, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives has said the reopening of religious centres in the country should be gradual.
Already, religious groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, have been meeting government in preparation for the reopening of churches and mosques.
In an interview with The Punch, NANNM President, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, said, “In the first instance, they (churches and mosques) are expected to be partners of progress with the government. A religious organisation (in the United States) went to court against the government and it lost. There is no way it could say the government should not try as much as possible to enforce public health law.”
The US Supreme Court, on Friday, turned away a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services.
“If the religious institutions are opened, we must know the limits and provide all the things that are expected to be provided. It is not a matter of multitudes just rushing in. It has to be bit by bit,” he added.
The punch reports that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said on Sunday that in the next phase of the battle against the virus, states would handle cases.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on April 27 announced a “phased and gradual easing” of the lockdown declared to curtail the spread of COVID-19. He also declared a nationwide curfew with effect from May 4.
Two weeks after, on May 18, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced that the President had approved that the “phased and gradual easing” be extended by another two weeks.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said at the time that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria was not yet ready for full opening of the economy “and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority.”
During the eased lockdown, the PTF said schools, churches, mosques and hotels remained shut, but some state governments, including Kano and Katsina, allowed the opening of worship centres during the last Sallah celebration.
Even with the extension of the eased lockdown, COVID-19 cases in the country increased to over 10,000 cases including about 3,000 recoveries and over 270 fatalities.