NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7- Places of worship will resume services from Tuesday, under stringent guidelines to safeguard congregants from contracting COVID-19.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the Chairperson of the Interfaith Council Archbishop Anthony Muheria, a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a phased re-opening of the country that had been on a partial lockdown since March.
Kenya had registered 8,067 COVID-19 cases and 164 deaths by July 6.
But even as the places of worship re-open, only 100 people will be required at any given time, with sessions not lasting more than 1 hour.
“This is in order to prepare our congregants for the public worship in the later phases. There must be sufficient stations for hand washing, wearing of masks and social distancing of 1.5 meter must be strictly observed,” Muheria announced.
To ensure compliance of the coronavirus directives, Muheria said every place of worship will be expected to form a COVID-19 committee that will be in charge of monitoring the adherence of the new measures.
“Please let us not rush without preparations. We all understand the great eagerness and longing that we have but with some patience and preparations, we will safely reunite. We must remember that the real solution for this pandemic lies in prayers to the almighty God,” he said.
In his address to the Nation Monday, the Head of State said the phased reopening of places of worship will see only 100 congregants allowed into the sanctuaries.
“In line with the guidelines issued by the Inter-Faith Council, only a maximum of one hundred (100) participants will be allowed at each worship ceremony and not more than one hour. Sunday Schools and Madrassas shall remain suspended until further notice, and in-person worship shall not include congregants under the age of thirteen (13) years or above the age of 58 years or persons with underlying conditions,” he said when he lifted the cessation of movement for Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera which had been in effect for the past three months.
Kenyatta said the Inter-Religious Faith Council had recommended vulnerable persons, minors below the age of 13 be exempted from the services.
The team was tasked to come up with protocols for the celebration of weddings and other religious ceremonies in the places of worship under social distancing guidelines.
Places of worship including churches and mosques were closed in late March to prevent the spread of the virus with some religious institutions resorting to transmitting their services through online platforms and television stations.