NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – Places of worship could soon reopen under stringent social distancing guidelines in a bid to safeguard congregants from contracting COVID-19.
A committee reviewing the guidelines has proposed to limit congregations to a few people who will be required to stay at least 1.5 metres apart- while those aged 60 and above as well as those with underlying conditions will be asked to follow the services from home due to the risk of infection.
In a raft of proposals, churches, temples and mosques will also be expected to provide hand washing stations or provide hand sanitizers at the point of entry for their members.
“The Religious Leaders recognize that part of the congregants are vulnerable populations. These include the elderly, those with underlying health conditions. When conducting services, Ask all attendees who have an underlying at-risk health conditions and the elderly to stay home and if possible watch the services online,” the draft regulations by a committee comprising interior, education and health ministry officials as well as religious leaders state.
Further, religious institutions will be required to get contactless thermometers for temperature monitoring.
Any person with temperature above 37.5 degrees will be denied entry to worship centres, according to the proposed guidelines.
“Every house of worship is encouraged to put measures in place to monitor temperature of the people coming to the houses of worship. Any person with temperature reading 37.5°c or more will not be allowed to enter in the place of worship. Temperature monitoring will only be done by using appropriate devices like digital infrared thermometer gun.”
Every place of worship, the guidelines seen by Capital FM News indicate, will be required to form a committee that will oversee the implementation of the regulations without fail.
On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed ministries of Interior and Health to expedite talks with religious leaders on how best places of worship can reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiangi (Interior) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health) were expected to come up with protocols that will be adopted to guide gatherings in churches, temples and mosques, to ensure worship services resume without exposing congregations to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need not to be persuaded as a people why we must do everything in our power to conquer this invisible enemy, the coronavirus disease,” the Head of State said when he hosted Madaraka Day celebrations at State House, Nairobi, on Monday.
The Head of State further stated that even as the government was putting the necessary measures to progressively ease movement restrictions, it was imperative for Kenyans to maintain adherence to measures issued by the Ministry of Health to keep the virus at bay.
“The containment measures and protocols issued by the government, while absolutely necessary, have constrained our freedoms and our way of life,” President Kenyatta added.
Following the first reported case of coronavirus in the country in March, places of worship including churches and mosques were shut to prevent the spread of the virus with some religious institutions resorting to transmitting their services via online platforms and television stations.
The country had recorded 2,216 positive cases and a total of 74 fatalities by June 3.