Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has reviewed the restriction on the number of worshippers during church services from 50 to 70 persons in the state.
Modalities are also being worked out for the number of Moslems that will participate in Friday prayers.
A release by Paulinus Nsirim, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, disclosed that these were part of resolutions reached at a meeting of religious leaders in the State with Governor Wike at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike stated that his administration does not want to take decisions on review of existing restrictions on the modes of religious gatherings without their inputs.
He noted that since the last meeting with them on 23rd March 2020 when the existing restrictions were collectively endorsed, it is obvious that the spiritual life of the people has declined because they cannot meet to pray and build their faith daily as they ought to do.
Governor Wike commended the religious leaders for complying with the directive of 50 persons per worship session and the maintenance of COVID-19 advisories.
He noted that the continual prayers they have made for the state have provided spiritual strength.
The governor assured that his administration would provide palliatives to religious organisations through their umbrella organisations.
Governor Wike said even if many people criticised him when he closed down the borders of the state, the strategy has been emulated by other States.
The governor stated that most people still do not believe in the reality of the pandemic and have continued to behave in manner that endanger the lives of others.
He enjoined the religious leaders to use their positions to enlighten their members to know that the pandemic which has been claiming lives is real.
He frowned at banks, supermarkets, shopping malls and other institutions that have continued to allow people to enter their premises without wearing their facemasks and warned that government would not hesitate to seal such premises should the practice continue.
On the Executive Order on burials, Governor Wike said the N10 million fine imposed for defaulters is not to enrich government but to deter people from flouting the guidelines.
Speaking for the Moslem community, the Public Relations Officer of Rivers State Islamic Affairs, Murtala Bamidele reaffirmed their determination to continue to cooperate with the state government to stem the spread of coronavirus in the state.
In his remarks on behalf of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Dr. Soibi Dagogo Jack noted that Rivers state is the only state where the governor has continued to seek the input of religious leaders.
Bishop, Diocese of Evo Anglican communion who spoke for the Christian Council of Nigeria commended the governor for the sincere and honest manner he has fought to save lives.
He pledged that the religious community would continue to support the State government’s strategies aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.