The Rivers State government has rescinded the approval it granted churches to allow their full congregation to attend Easter services on Sunday.
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The reversal was announced in a statement signed by Paulinus Nsirim, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication, on Saturday.
Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, had announced in a state-wide broadcast on Thursday that he had relaxed the stay-at-home order he declared to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID) in the state.
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The decision was greeted with a backlash by Nigerians on social media, with Camillus Etokudoh, the Bishop of the Port Harcourt Catholic Diocese, instructing all priests and lay faithful not to hold large congregational services.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 also urged state governors not to relax the declared lockdown.
According to the Rivers State government, the decision was reversed after engaging in discussions with key stakeholders in the state.
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“The Rivers State Government has cancelled the concession granted churches to hold Easter Church Services with their full congregations.
“This decision was taken after due consultations with eminent clergymen, well-meaning Nigerians and civil society groups,” the statement read.
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The government also warned churches that the social distancing practice must be adhered to during services on Sunday.
“For the avoidance of doubt, churches should stick to the 50 persons per service to maintain social distancing,” the statement read.