Our suggestions to the State Government on the re-opening of churches within the State, bearing in mind that the danger of COVID-19 is not over yet. We are thinking that if we engage method of congregational cry unto God over the pandemic, God would hear our prayers.
Suggested guidelines by OS-CAN.
- That the reopening of worship centers take effect from this month.
- Vulnerable individuals such as those aged 65 and above, those with underlying ailments such as Tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, diabetes, to stay at home.
- Strict adherence to social distancing: one-meter gap between individuals, meaning, One-third of the total capacity of the Church is what is required at every point in time. For example, if total capacity is 300, not more than 100 worshippers should be accommodated.
- Churches should disinfect their premises first before they are reopened for services.
- Churches should provide alcoholic sanitizers, infra-red thermometers, soap and water in their premises to be supervised by medical professionals in the Church. Persons with high temperature should not be allowed into the Church but be encourage to go and see their doctors.
- Every worshipper must either use soap to wash their hands or apply sanitizers.
- Every worshipper must wear facemask.
- Physical distancing should be observed in the sitting arrangement with one-meter gap between two worshippers.
- Only regular Church services will be allowed for 1-hour maximum with 30minutes interval for cleaning, and not more than two services.
- Churches can make use of classrooms and multipurpose halls for services where available, especially in big churches in order to accommodate more worshippers at a go. TV circuit and speakers can be used for those who are not inside the main auditorium.
- Use of Air Conditioners is discouraged while all windows should be opened for proper/cross ventilation.
- Handshaking and hugging should be avoided before, during and after the service.
- Churches are encouraged to have their medical teams for guardians and implementation of all protocols.
- Food and water distribution during church hours and all drinking water points should be closed.
- Placing of signage/notices at strategic locations is highly recommended to remind everyone of best hygiene practice.
- Vigil, Sunday school and children activities, and special services to remain suspended until further notice.
- CAN in the State and at all Local Government levels shall constitute taskforce committee with law enforcement agencies in their area to enforce full compliance.
- Churches observing Holy Communion service should use separate cup for each participant. All leaders involved in serving the communion elements must sanitize their hands and wear face masks before carrying the communion trays.
- All microphones should be sanitized after being used by an assigned church member. An Usher or a protocol officer or a church worker should be assigned the duty of sanitizing the microphones. Microphones could be stationed on a microphone stand to avoid handling. Users must keep audio distancing of 5 – 7 inches from the microphone. Number of officiating ministers using Microphones should be reduced altogether till the pandemic is over.
- The number of Choristers during each service shift should be reduced to avoid clustering. The frequency in singing should be minimized for the time being. Each chorister (if possible) should be assigned a specific microphone throughout the service. Use of microphone stands is recommended so that microphones will not be touched. Choir robe should be worn but use of choir robe hat should be replaced with personal hat or beret.
- Members should not be allowed to dance out during offerings for the time being. Offerings should be collected using offering bags. Specific ushers should be assigned to carry the offering bags for the people to drop their offerings without leaving their seats or touching the offering bags. Giving out change in smaller denominations should not be allowed in the church. Workers counting offering after service should use face masks and hand gloves and as well wash their hands or use sanitizers before and after counting the offerings.
- Children between ages one and six should be with their parent during service. All children must be made to observe both physical and social distancing. In addition, Children that are seven (7) years and above must wear face mask. Feeding of children in the department should be suspended for now. If there is need for this, the parents should be called to handle it. The Children workers must be put on red-alert to be able to respond urgently to any situation in the department. If the children’s church is not spacious enough, the use of a canopy or canopies outside is highly recommended. Children with known ailments should be advised to stay off service.
- Ushers must be assigned to monitor the toilets and ensure that they are flushed by users immediately after use and the flow master handles sanitized. Tissue papers should be cut into small sizes and given to each person for use by a gloved worker. Toilet rooms should be disinfected immediately after use by anybody. All toilets should be manned by an usher or protocol officer or an assigned worker who must ensure that those using the toilet wash their hands with soap and running water.
- All worshippers should be politely asked to leave the church premises for their homes immediately after the Service.
- This list of guidelines is not the final. Let us begin to make preparation for the opening of our churches following all these while we await the final guidelines from the government.
The Christian Association of Nigeria appreciates His Excellency for his untiring efforts in combating and containing the Coronavirus pandemic in the State. We assure His Excellency of continuous education of our members on Covid-19 and its prevention measures and will continue to pray for the State as the churches reopen for services.
Rt. Rev. A.K.O. Ogunrinde, Rev. Gabriel Ogunkunle
OSCAN Chairman. OSCAN Secretary.