Most Churches across Uyo Senatorial District – USD, showed impressive compliance with the guidelines for the re-opening of Churches in the District as released by Christian Association of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Chapter to contain the dreaded COVID-19 disease in the State.
This was the observation of Akwa Ibom State Government COVID-19 Church monitoring team for USD today, Sunday, July 19, 2020.
The guidelines stipulated that churches must sign up for full compliance with all aspects of non – pharmaceutical interventions outlined by NCDC and CAN – Akwa Ibom State Chapter to protect the public from COVID-19.
The protocols are: ensuring the supply of running water and liquid soap/alcohol based sanitisers at entry and exit points for worshippers to sanitise their hands before entry; and mandatory use of face masks.
Also, the guidelines strongly discouraged all close contact including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship implements including musical organs, microphones while each service shall be for a maximum period of 1 to 2 hours.
However, at most of the Churches visited today by members of USD monitoring Team led by the Chairman, Hon. Eric Akpan there was compliance with must of the guidelines especially common ones such as hand washing; avoiding close contacts like handshaking and hugging; social distance in sitting arrangements, use of face mask and time management for one to 2 hours duration.
The team commenced today’s monitoring at Itu Local Government Area with visitation to 5 churches.
The churches are: Assemblies of God – Mbak Itam, All Nations for Christ Church Inc. – Oku Iboku, The Church of Christ – Oku Iboku, All Nations for Christ Church- Mbak Atai Itam and Deeper Life Bible Church – Mbak Atai Itam.
Most churches were rated above average with room for further improvements.
At Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, The Apostolic Church Nigeria – Ikot Asukpong, St. Peter’s Parish- Ibiono, Mount Zion City of Living God – Mbiabam Ibiono and Church of Christ- Mbiabam Ibiono were the churches observed by the Team.
Four churches were visited in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area and almost all the churches visited complied asides from Church of Christ which registered nonconformity with all of the guidelines.
Similarly, in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, four churches were supervised. They are: The Lutheran Church of Nigeria – Ikot Oduot, The Apostolic Church – Ikot Ambon, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church – Owot Uta and Assemblies of God – Owot Uta.
Most protocols were made mandatory by Churches authorities and worshippers complied, accordingly.
Also, in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area, the Team observed activities in 5 churches.
The churches are: The Apostolic church – Okpob District, Christ True Gospel Mission – Afaha Offiong, The Salvation Army – Afaha Offiong and Mount Zion Light House Full Godpel Church Inc. Afaha Nsit 11
Social distancing was observed as Church members sit two to three per pew while there was hand wash and sanitisers at major entry points, although, some churches defaulted in some of the protocols.
At Etinan Local Government Area, the Team met two churches in service; Christ Miracle Expansion Mission, Stadium Road and The Salvation Army – Etinan Corp. They all complied impressively.
The Team traversed Nsit Ubium, Nsit Atia and Uruan Local Government Areas although most churches had closed before the Team’s arrival. This could be attributed to the Team’s emphases of churches adhering to one to two hours of service as stipulated in the guidelines.
Notably, one of the guidelines that was not significantly adhered to was the appropriate use of face masks by worshippers while Church leaders complained some level of high-headednes of some members in appropriate use of face masks.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Eric Akpan who is also the Executive Chairman of Nsit Ibom Local Government Area has commended Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Akwa Ibom State Chapter and other church leaders across the USD for ensuring compliance with the Covid-19 guidelines for re-opening of churches.
Hon. Akpan equally appreciated Governor Udom Emmanuel for setting up the monitoring teams across the three Senatorial Districts of the State with the mandate of creating awareness amongst worshippers to ensure strict adherence to guidelines and to curb widespread of COVID-19.