Adeola Ogunlade and Omolola Afolabi
AFTER 20 weeks of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, churches in Lagos reopened on Suhday amid low turnout.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had on August 1 said churches could resume in-person services.
Lagos has 15,768 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 193 deaths, by far the largest share of Nigeria’s 46,140 cases.
In several churches, worshippers complied with COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing of face masks, observance of social distancing and hand washing.
Some churches had inscriptions welcoming worshippers and highlighting the need to comply with the protocols.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Deeper Life Christian Ministry, Foursquare Gospel Church, Anglican Communion, Methodist Church, African Church, Christ Apostolic Church and the Assemblies of God Church all reopened.
At the national headquarters of the RCCG, Abutte-metta, there was a big inscription informing members and visitors to wear facemasks.
Ushers checked the temperature of worshippers, who were instructed to wash their hands and writes their names on a register.
Children below 12 were sent back.
Social distancing rule was maintained in the church and monitored by the Pastor in charge of the parish, Adebayo Adeyemo.
Multiple services were introduced. At 8 am, the first service began with 360 worshippers in a hall meant for thousands. The second service had 44 worshippers in attendance.
The General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, welcomed the reopening of the churches, noting that in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and healing.
At the Foursquare Gospel Church national headquarters, the requirements for entering the church were stated at the entrance.
A notice reads: “kindly check your temperatures and sanitise your hands at this point.
“You will not be allowed into this church if you decline the checks. Help us reduce your risk of coronavirus infection!”
The church also had two services, and despite having a capacity for 2,000, provision was made for 200 worshippers with social distancing in place.
An attendance slip was distributed to every worshipper for data gathering.
Similarly, the protocol was followed by the Christ Apostolic Church (the Power of God Saves) in Egbeda.
From the gate, officials directed worshippers to wash their hands, get their temperature checked and hands sanitised.
A small registration sheet indicating name, sex, age, address, telephone number and email address were handed out to be returned to the ushers.
At St Hoare’s Memorial Methodist Cathedral, Yaba, there was compliance with the protocols.
The 500-capacity church had only 80 worshippers for the first service and less than 50 congregants for the second service (Yoruba).
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Two people were allowed to seat on a long wooden chair.
The priests on the altar also maintained social distancing.
At the St.Dominic’s Catholic Church, Yaba, Lagos, Masses were held at five different centres simultaneously.
At the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Power House, Shomolu, there was a low turnout but the members thanked God for sparing their lives.
Churches in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos complied with the COVID-19 protocols.
Automated hand wash units and hand sanitiser dispensers, soaps, water and infrared thermometers were provided.
Also, big banners with “No Mask, No Entry” inscriptions were displayed at the doors.
Social distancing was observed by worshippers, with “Do Not Sit” written on papers placed on intervening seats.
At the Living Faith Church, A.K.A. Winners Chapel, Dominion Centre, in FESTAC Town, the Provincial Head, Pastor Alex Aina, said worshippers were excited to resume and, therefore, complied with the guidelines.
At the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ikate in Surulere, the first service lasted for about two hours with not more than 30 worshipers.
Only two persons sat per pew. All worshipers wore face masks. The church distributed free face masks and hand sanitisers to members.
Worshippers at the Royalty Christian Centre and Redeemed Christian Church of God, Bethsaida Parish, Agege, complied with the protocols.
Infrared thermometers, automated hand sanitisers and running water were in place for congregants.
However, the church auditorium was full capacity.
The Head Pastor of Royalty Christian Centre, David Adeoye, urged members to avoid touching or hugging while exchanging pleasantries.
He said: “We’ve been told not to hug or shake. However, waving is permitted.”
For offerings, he said members could use e-banking alternatives.
“If you would like to give cash, kindly wrap in an envelope, seal and pass it on, but if you would like to transfer, you may use the POS machine we have provided for use,” he said.
It was observed that some worshippers pulled down their masks while praying; others removed them while taking pictures within the premises.