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Worshippers at Holy Family Basilica Church in Nairobi: Churches in Kenya have been exercising strict social distancing due to COVID-19. /CFM-FILE.

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Inter-Faith council on COVID-19 confident of churches re-opening

NAIROBI, Kenya July 2 – The Inter-Faith Council on the national response on coronavirus is set to finalise consultations with various stakeholders this week on measures to to be adopted if places of worship are re-opened.

Archbishop Anthony Muheria, who chairs the 15-member council, said the draft report will be submitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta once it’s ready.

“The probability of opening up our churches is very high and is in the hands of God,” he said on Thursday after a meeting with the Council of Governors.

He noted that the council has since received numerous submissions from various stakeholders who are keen to see the places of worship re-opened soon.

“We still emphasis the great need of compliance for all of us, compliance with the measures that will keep at bay coronavirus,” he said.  

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who presented the Council of Governors’ recommendations to the inter-faith council lauded the progress so far by the Archbishop Muheria-led team.

“We agree with your work, we will support it and we look forward to that gradual re-opening in terms of what you will report on and what will be adopted,” he said.

While acknowledging that some challenges might be encountered when the places of worship are re-opened, Governor Kibwana said the council should priorities in its report the recommendation of facilitating crucial items to those places of worship that cannot affor thermal guns that measure temperature.

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“That is a matter that should be taken into account before the compilation of the final report,” he said.

Kenya had registered more than 6,000 positive cases and 148 deaths by July 1. Authorities fear the cases may shoot up from September dashing hopes for the re-opening of schools.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe were jointly appointed to guide on the development of stringent protocols for a phased re-opening of places of worship in guidelines expected to allow a more participatory mode of worship under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commitee is expected to submit its report to guide President Uhuru Kenyatta before his July 6 address in which he is expected to issue new directives or review existing ones.

Kenya is on a night curfew and cessation of movement is declared to and from Nairobi, Mandera and Mombasa counties.

Apart from churches, bars and are also closed as well as a ban on all forms of large gatherings of more than 20 people.

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