By Emmanuel Ugwu
Churches and other worship centres would come alive throughout Abia State this Easter period as the state government Thursday announced a “slight relaxation” of restriction of movement to allow Christians celebrate Easter.
The temporary defrosting of movement was made known by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Chris Ezem, who is also the chairman of the state Covid-19 Committee.
It came about with the approval of the state Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, barely 24 hours after he had similarly approved an extension of the total lockdown in the state by seven days.
Ezem said that free movement “only within the state” would commence from 6.00am on Good Friday and terminate by 2.00pm on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.
“Accordingly, religious worshippers shall be free to worship at their various churches and mosques,” he said, adding that a number of guidelines “must be compulsorily observed at all places of worship”.
The Covid-19 Committee listed the four guidelines to include admittance of “not more than 50 persons per stream of worship (while) a social distance of 1.5m must be maintained, adding that all worshippers “must wear face masks”.
Other guidelines require that “churches and mosques must provide a minimum of 4 points for hand washing with running water and soap as well as provide hand sanitizers at different points for the use of intending worshippers.
To ensure full compliance with the guideline, the committee stated that state and local government enforcement teams and security agents “shall continue to move around to ensure strict compliance”.
“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu hereby enjoins all religious worshippers to use this period to pray for God’s intervention and mercy upon our dear State Abia, our nation Nigeria and the entire world over this dreaded pandemic,” the statement said.
However the Covid-19 Committee explained that the slight relaxation of lockdown “did not extend to public gatherings such as burial ceremonies, weddings, meetings, clubbing, among other as the initial ban is still in force”.
“All our state borders remain closed and security operatives must continue to ensure strict compliance,” the statement said.