Sunday, August 9, 2020, in Lagos. Sartorial elegance was on show while microphones screeched through the air.
It’s a familiar feeling for a Sunday morning that had seemed forgotten in Lagos which now returned as churches in Lagos for the first time in five months were allowed to reopen.
Churches in Lagos were made to suspend their major weekly activities including Sunday services in late March in compliance with Lagos State government’s advisory on large gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Although a few churches failed to act by the state’s order, the compliance was overwhelming as some churches, especially the big ones opted for online services.
Even now that the government has continued to relax lockdown measures and given approval for the reopening of churches, some of these big churches including Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, Daystar Christian Centre, Synagogue Church of All Nations, The Covenant Church, etc continued with their online services.
Others however reopened but experienced low turnout as many remain hesitant with the pandemic still on.
Those who braved the odds expressed delight in being able to attend services again.
"Returning to church was such an exciting experience for me,” Ogechi Boniface who attended a St. Dominic's Catholic church in Yaba told Pulse.
Churches who reopened on Sunday also put some measures in place to meet the requirements for reopening.
Boniface said she had to register for Mass before she could attend service, a measure that has been put in place so that the church will not be more than 50% capacity.
“Without a mask, you won't be allowed in. Also, there were almost 10 sinks stationed at the entrance of the church where you are given a hand wash and sanitizer to use in washing your hands and sanitizing them respectively,” Boniface who works in the media also said.
“For the sitting arrangement, we were two metres apart from each other even during the offertory collection and communion.
“Also, what changed in the liturgy of the mass was that we couldn't shake each other during the ‘Let's offer each other a sign of peace’ part. It was an experience that reminded me of what we had to do during Ebola.”
It was the same experience for a slew of worshipers Pulse spoke to in different areas of Lagos.
“We had to wash our hands with either water and soap or sanitizer before we entered the church,” a banker who identified as Amos told Pulse.
“There were also temperature checks and a lot of social distancing inside the church,” Amos who attends a Redeemed Christian Church of God branch around Okota said.
To ensure compliance of COVID-19 protocols, several churches in Lagos had banners placed outside to warn worshippers.
‘No mask, no entrance’, ‘check your temperature’ ‘wash your hands’ were some of the messages written on such banners.
Archbishop Alfred Martins at Holy Cross Cathedral in Lagos on Sunday told the congregation-as quoted by the Guardian UK- that this was not the time for them to do things they want to but to do things the way they have to.