Lagos government, in a decision that came as a shock, has finally decided to reopen the worship centres across the state, ushering a sigh of relief to the worshippers in the commercial capital city.
Without any iota of doubt, this is contrary to the position previously maintained by the state when the federal government finally announced a ban lift on worship centres across the country.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 led by its coordinator, Sani Aliyu, had announced the relaxation on the ban on religious gatherings in the country effective from Monday, June 1.
Interestingly, PTF said the decision was reached based on the guidelines and protocols agreed upon by state governments in lines with the protocols of NCDC.
But in a subsequent effort, some state governments including Lagos announced that religious centres in their states would still remain under lock and key as Covid-19 took a danger-filled swipe at 35 states.
The four states, as earlier reported by Legit.ng, are Lagos, Kwara, Osun and Kaduna.
Why was Lagos initially sceptical?
Lagos, unarguably is the epicentre of coronavirus in Nigeria with 5,542 confirmed cases and over 67 deaths, posing a great challenge that first ruled out the possibility of reopening mosques and churches in the state any time soon.
So, immediately the federal government lifted the ban on religious centres, Lagos commissioner of home affairs, Anofiu Elegushi, declared the state would maintain the status quo as per the ban lift.
Elegushi might have been speaking out of the panic that Lagos may lose the battle against the pandemic should it be partially repositioned in a way that will again see worshippers mingle amid a palpable rise in the state's cases on daily basis.
Lagos alone is fully responsible for 51% of the total confirmed coronavirus cases across the country.
In his words: “Even before the pronouncement by the Federal Government, we had been having meetings with the religious leaders; we even had one with the Safety Commission to look at the possibility of reopening religious houses.
“We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.”
Why Lagos finally reopened worship centres despite earlier refusal?
Despite its population of over 17.5 million which apparently marks it out as a "hot-soup" for the highly ravaging scourge, Lagos on Thursday, June 4, cast ban on religious gathering — a decision welcomed with mixed feelings.
In a series of tweets, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu stated that the worship centres in the state would be allowed to reopen from June 19.
He further clarified that mosques are to reopen from Friday, June 19, while churches are to begin services from Sunday, June 21.
Lagos, of course, arrived at the decision having done its Covid-19 risk analysis which pegged down some guidelines to be followed by the leadership of various religious centres across the state.
PTF on Covid-19 had stated that the central response to the fight against the scourge would be handed over to the state governments, which means every state can decide what is best for it to stem down the spread of the virus.
Insofar, Lagos and leaders of religious groups (might) have analysed the risks attached to reopening of worship centres and decided that the best option is to move on.
The state, therefore, set out new guidelines which mandate people below 15 and above 65 to stay away from worship places pending the time there would be a new pronouncement.
"The reopening is limited to only obligatory services and with a 'No face mask, No entry' policy throughout the duration of the services. Vigils and other extra-religious activities remain prohibited," Governor Sanwo-Olu further enlightened as religious services come back to life.
Meanwhile, students in Lagos state may soon resume academic activities as the state government on Thursday, June 4, said the decision to reopen schools will be taken in two weeks.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made the disclosure during a press briefing.
Coronavirus: Is it time to reopen churches, mosques? | Legit TV