August 1, 2020 / 6:40 PM / 6 days ago

Nigeria's Lagos to allow places of worship to reopen - governor

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a cathedral church near the marina in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos will allow churches and mosques to resume in-person services from August 7, the state’s governor said in a press briefing on Saturday.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also said restaurants, social clubs and recreational centres will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity from August 14 as the state, the epicentre of Nigeria’s coronavirus outbreak, eases restrictions despite a continued rise in infections.

Lagos state, home to the megacity of the same name with 20 million people, has more than 15,000 confirmed cases and 192 deaths, by far the largest share of Nigeria’s 43,151 cases.

It ordered widespread closures and a lockdown in March to halt the spread of the highly infectious virus.

The lockdown was eased in early May, but Sanwo-Olu scuppered plans to reopen churches and mosques in June, citing a continued rise in cases.

Christianity and Islam are widely practised in Lagos and the rest of Nigeria, and houses of worship in normal times often host services with thousands of people.

Houses of worship will only be allowed to open for services once a week at no more than 50% capacity. Sanwu-Olu also increased the limit on public gatherings from 20 to 50 people.

Nightclubs, cinemas and some arcades will remain closed.

Reporting By Libby George and Nneka Chile; Editing by Jan Harvey

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