Why we can’t allow churches to open in Akwa Ibom – Governor Emmanuel

The Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, has explained why his administration is yet to allow churches in the state to hold public gathering despite easing the lockdown and reopening the local economy.

“The problem is not the church, the problem is after church (service) what happens?” Mr Emmanuel said on May 9 in a phone-in radio interview in Uyo.

“People come into the church, they come in individually, so that’s not a problem – you use hand sanitisers, you use face mask. But when once they share the grace after the church service, somebody you have not seen in one week that is when people begin to hug, that is when people begin to share fellowship, brotherhood, sisterhood, and so on, that is where we are scared of,” he said.

“At that point the pastor wouldn’t be able to control the crowd, wouldn’t be able to control how those people interact after church service.”

Apart from religious gathering, the state government is yet to lift or ease the ban on social gatherings and funerals.

Markets in the state are opened only three times a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

It is now mandatory for residents of the state to wear face mask whenever they are in public.

Mr Emmanuel said those who try to organise wedding and burial at this time would be arrested and prosecuted.

“Please, don’t push us to that point, obey simple instruction,” he said. “Hold on to this let’s try and drive the curve downward and then we will open up everywhere.”

The governor said he meets every evening, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with the state COVID-19 team which is headed by the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, Emmanuel Ekuwem.

There are 16 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Akwa Ibom state as of May 15.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said on Friday that they erroneously published that the number of infection in Akwa Ibom was 17, instead of 16.

The one case that was published as a new infection in the state on May 14 was actually a repeat case, the centre said.

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