NEWS: The South African national coronavirus command council has allowed churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of worship to resume operations as of June 1. TimesLIVE reports also that services rendered by religious leaders, including spiritual counselling to individual congregants at their homes, will also fall under the essential service category under lockdown level 3.
“Places of worship may reopen, subject to strict restrictions – which are absolutely necessary if we are to prevent infections from rising,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday night.
“Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other recognised places of worship may resume services. But these will be limited in size to 50 people or less, depending on the space available.”
During his national address on Sunday, Ramaphosa said the government had “fruitful discussions” with the religious community over the opening of spiritual worship and counselling services “subject to certain norms and standards”.
“We have all agreed to have further discussions on this issue and are confident we will find a workable solution,” he said.
Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the national coronavirus command council had decided to “accede to the proposals” made by religious leaders, in accordance with “certain norms and standards”.
The easing of restrictions on religious practises, said Ramaphosa, will have to follow stringent measures aimed at minimising risk of contracting the coronavirus.
This would include not allowing more than 50 people to attending a service. Moreover, places of worship would have to be constantly sanitised – before and after every service.
It remains unclear, however, how the government will enforce these rules in every single place of worship across the country.
“The current restrictions on congregational worship will be eased in a carefully measured way. Social distancing will have to be observed, and all worshipers and participants will have to wear face masks, in line with the current regulations,” said the president.
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