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Freedom, sweet freedom

Published by The Nation on Fri, 05 Jun 2020

When no has other meaningOlukorede YishauCongratulations on our new-found freedom. It has been torturing having to ensure one was back indoors before the 8 pm curfew.Now that the curfew is 10 pm, life will be a lot easier. It is also great that airports are set to resume domestic flights on June 21. Banks have also resumed normal operations and businesses should boom.But it is not time to pop the champagne yet; let us save the dance. I need to make some things clear and the first is that the decision to re-open the world after it was shut by COVID-19 for months is not because we have a ceasefire agreement with the deadly virus.Two, world leaders are feeling the bite of the virus on the economy and have decided to take sides with economic well-being.In a nutshell, it is now to your tent O Israel! Our destinies are now in our hands and we can choose to either live or leave! It is all about balancing public safety with protecting livelihoods and allowing the full renewal of economic activities.My plea to all of us is that freedom comes with responsibility, and responsibility in this sense is that it is not time to throw caution to the wind yet.While we bank on herd immunity to protect us from the virus, we must guard our actions with all diligence. Partying, nightclubbing, and the likes should not be on our to-do list for now.I know we have missed our religious obligations but we need to approach our faiths with all sense of decency. I have heard a Christian body argue that if Christians and Muslims return to their worship places to pray for victory over COVID-19, God will surely answer us.The closure of the worship places is not acceptable to God. We thank God for opening the eyes of our government to the reality. I am a layman in matters like this so I will only say we have seen examples of choir members who contracted the virus by ignoring physical distancing.We have also seen a video of a church in the U.S., where many members were lost to COVID-19. There was also a pastor in Texas who dared the virus and paid with his dear life. He said the virus would not stop him from serving God and he died thinking he was doing that.One thing that has also occurred to me is that except churches and mosques are set to cut corners, which I doubt, reopening will be difficult.The places of worship are expected to provide running water for intending worshippers to wash their hands before accessing the facilities, they are also expected to provide hand sanitisers and, above all, physical distancing must not be compromised. They are also expected to conclude services within a specific time.There are massive churches where members are so huge that more than one service has to be conducted to accommodate them. Some even have to do as much as four services. Achieving this within the specific time given to them will be like a 60-year-old conceiving.There is also the issue of children church. Kids generally are difficult to compel to observe physical distancing. How will the churches work out the magic'I suspect we will see churches with the capacity to accommodate 5,000 having only 20 or 50 members in a service, which means many will still have to do church online, which actually became popular in the Pentecostal churches before the thief called COVID-19 came to plunder our world and make us strangers in our homes.Coronavirus is a killer. In the last few days, jobs, millions of them, have been lost to this bastard, which has also killed millions all over the world. Colleaguesmany of them professionally competentare home thinking of where the next jobs will come from.They were excused from their jobs because their employers could not withstand the COVID-19 blow. It was a killer punch that sent employers scrambling for new grammar to justify a bad situation in a nation in dire need. Until this madness, I never heard the word furlough, but many now know what it means and it is not good news.I am quite aware that Lassa Fever, malaria and other tropical diseases kill, and more than Coronavirus does, but they are regimented and have minimal effect on the global economy.COVID-19 is a globetrotter. Like the legendary Ajala, it has travelled all over the world but unlike Ajala, it brings bad news anywhere it goes. Like a telecoms giant, it is everywhere you go.We are yet to reach the peak of the pandemic and our newfound freedom may aggravate things if we fail to be responsible.There is still the need to limit social interactions and reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. Hand washing, wearing of a mask, maintenance of physical distancing and the avoidance of mass gatherings should still be gospels we preach and practise.We all need to be careful to escape Coronavirus and prevent it from further penetrating the world. It has done enough damage already and, in our little corner, we should join the race to clip its wings and leave it prostrate.My final take: Ebola bowed to us and Coronavirus must. In defeating it, we must rein in the folks roaming the streets recklessly ignoring the protocols meant to protect us.They must not continue to roam like lost cows and pigs with disoriented owners. We are endangering ourselves and others by continuing to crowd parks, playgrounds and public spaces. It is time we stopped.
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