Ramon Oladimeji, Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe, Daud Olatunji, Grace Edema and Bola Bamigbola
PREGNANT women and children were on Sunday denied access to churches in some parts of Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, as they reopened for services after about four months closure.
Most of the churches visited were seen to have complied with COVID-19 protocols as they provided automated hand washing, hand sanitisers and infrared thermometers within the premises of churches.
Many churches also displayed the bold inscription; ‘No Mask No Entry’ at entrances, with officials wearing face masks and taking the temperature of worshipers.
At Living Faith Church Worldwide (Winners Chapel) located at Quarry road in Abeokuta, three services were held with an impressive turn out of Christian faithful.
Security agents as well as members of the State Taskforce on COVID-19 were present in many churches to monitor compliance.
But pregnant women and children, who wanted to be part of the service, were turned back.
At the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus Centre Family, Omida area of Abeokuta, there was, however, a low turnout of Christian faithful.
At St. Leo Catholic Church, Otun Abeokuta Diocese, only parishioners with face masks were allowed into the church to observe the holy mass.
In one of the churches visited by our correspondent, Grace and Truth Ministry of Reconciliation, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, it was observed that worshippers maintained physical distancing, wore a face mask and washed hand before entering the church.
The pastor of the church, John Nyamadi, who spoke with our correspondent, said, “We feel happy coming back to church because the word of God says, ‘in the presence of God, there’s fullness of joy.’ So, that is why many of our brethren came out today. We are happy that the government says we should open the church.”
Also, at The Redeemed Christian Church, Christ Ambassador Parish, Akintonde Street, Magboro, Ogun State, congregants’ temperatures were taking, using an infrared thermometer; washing of hands with water and soap as well as use of hand sanitiser and face mask were enforced.
It was a similar situation at RCCG, Amazing Favour Zonal Headquarters, Magboro road, where a handful of congregants sat far apart from each other in the large auditorium.
Service also held at the Apostolic Church Nigeria, Magboro Assembly, with a large turnout of worshippers with a strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
At Deeper Life Christian Centre, Cele Bus Stop, Magboro, also ensured that members wore face masks all through the service, while social distancing was maintained.
A member of the Living Faith Church, also know as Winners Chapel, who does not want her name in print, told our correspondent in a telephone interview that the church held three services on Sunday at its headquarters in Ota.
She said, “After the first service, the church auditorium and the surrounding were fumigated before the second service, the same thing was done before the third service commenced.”
In a related development, the Coordinator of Ekiti COVID-19 Response Taskforce, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, expressed satisfaction with the compliance level of churches as they reopened for service on Sunday after five months of closure.
He said, “The churches opened today (Sunday) and they all opened well. Most of them were seen to obey the rules. I think they don’t want an extension of the one-month delay we gave them to ensure compliance with the guidelines.”