Places of worship may resume their services under level 3 of lockdown, with strict conditions in place.
In March, places of worship were forced to close their doors to congregants, as the government implemented a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other recognised places of worship may now 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 congregants will have to wear face masks, in line with the current regulations.
Following consultation with religious leaders, the National Coronavirus Command Council acceded to calls by the sector to resume their work of providing spiritual guidance.
In a briefing on Tuesday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the NCCC’s decision to allow the re-opening of faith-based services from 1 June 2020.
“After consideration following consultation with our religious leaders, we have therefore determined that as part of the regulations for alert level 3, the current restrictions on congregational worship will be eased in a carefully measured way.
“Places of worship may re-open, subject to strict restrictions, which are absolutely necessary if we are to prevent infections from rising in accordance with the norms and standards that will be set out in the regulations,” said the President.
In preparation to resume services, all religious organisations are required to thoroughly clean and sanitise places for worship before and after services.
“Our faith communities must ensure that any religious rituals that carry even the slightest possibility of exposing worshippers to risk should be avoided and that where they form an essential part of religious practice, sanitisation is paramount,” said President Ramaphosa.
Religious leaders will be recognised as essential religious frontline workers for purposes of spiritual counselling to members of their faith organisations.
National day of prayer
Ahead of the ushering in level 3 of lockdown, leaders of various faith communities have called for a national day of prayer on Sunday, 31 May. The day will be used to pray for healing.
“On this day, wherever we may be, I call upon you to turn your thoughts to all who have been affected by this pandemic.
“On this day, we should remember those who are working to keep us safe and those who are suffering and grieving,” said the President.