KENYA: Interfaith Council on Covid-19 Adjusts Guidelines to Allow More People to Public Worship

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, AUGUST 11, 2020 (CISA) – The Interfaith Council on Covid-19 has issued guidelines for the next phase of the reopening of places of worship.  The new guidelines states that the number of people allowed into the place of worship will be determined by distancing, rather than the fixed number of 100 people allowed in the pre-opening phase.

The new guidelines, expected to take effect on August 18, 2020 have also adjusted the ages of those allowed in places of worship from between 13 and 58 years to between 6 and 65 years. Church service will last 90 minutes from the previous 60 minutes.

“Numbers will be determined by social distancing (1.5 metres) and size of space Available; Time limit is 90 minutes and age limit are revised to over 6 years and under 65 years,” reads the statement dated August 11, signed by Most Rev. Anthony Muheria, archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri, and Chairman of the Interfaith Council that was mandated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to develop guidelines for the safe and phased reopening of places of worship.

“We shall especially take care to follow the indication of wearing face masks at all times, hand washing before and after the worship and keeping social distance. We encourage use of thermal guns,” it adds stressing on regular disinfection of places of worship.

The council however urged all those who are elderly, sick or with health conditions, to still worship from their homes.

“In this Phase One that is now set to begin, the total number of attendants in funerals is set at 100 persons. This is a reasonable number that is not too constraining,” they said insisting that there should not be food sharing since the risk becomes even higher when people remove their masks to eat.

The religious leaders raised concerns on how guidelines set on funerals continues being flouted estimating their compliance below 10 percent.

The statement highlighted the low compliance by the public to Ministry of Health Covid-19 regulations appealing to Kenyans to listen to the cry of those now suffering from Covid-19.

“Please listen to those struggling now in hospitals, for whom we now pray for their recovery. They keep repeating to us, that this thing is real, and we should not wish this illness to anybody. If we can avoid one more person getting it, let us do so!”

Further, the council has appreciated Kenyans for posting a 90 percent compliance to the earlier measures issued on July 7 to guide the pre-opening phase of places of worship.

“A special appeal goes to our young people. You young people are full of life, and you love being together. For this same reason, you can be an easy avenue for this virus to reach especially our elderly and sick, if you do not take precautions,” they implored, asking them to encourage one another to abide by the measures set by the Ministry of Health to help contain the spread of the virus.

“We are very aware and seriously concerned with the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and especially those who are seriously ill and those who succumb to Covid-19. We are however trusting in God and hopeful that we will soon see the reduction in numbers and even a total containment of this pandemic,” they added.

As at August 11, the country has recorded 27425 covid-19 positive cases and 438 covid-19 related deaths.