Are churches essential services?

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last night that 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.

“Social distancing will have to be observed and all worshippers and participants will have to wear face masks in line with the current regulations” said the president.

This has left Twitter users divided with some saying #churchisessential whilst some say opening of churches will increase coronavirus cases and fatalities.

As nations weigh on reopening parts of society after locking down because of the coronavirus, Germany has jumped ahead after bringing its outbreak under control, reopening houses of worship and allowing the faithful to gather again in larger numbers. That decision has had crucial consequences, with a new cluster of cases emerging: Forty churchgoers tested positive after a May 10 service at a Baptist church.

Meanwhile in Spain, churches have progressively reopened since the start of this month, with a limit of one-third or half the full occupancy depending on the provinces. To help reduce the risk of transmission, the Roman Catholic Church in Spain put in place safety measures, including avoiding choir singing because of the difficulty of maintaining safe social distances.

The President said the decision to open churches comes after the meeting with religious leaders.

Ramaphosa has also declared the 31st of May as a National Day of Prayer. He urged all South Africans to heed to the call. “Prayer will comfort and strengthen us as we continue to confront this pandemic,” he said.

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    Source: The New York times

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