Dlamini-Zuma to churches: pray but don't touch
With places of worship opening up next month, the government has announced that all rituals that require touching are forbidden.
This was announced by co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Friday.
In a statement, Dlamini-Zuma said according to the new regulations, congregants were also required to keep a distance of 1.5m between them for the duration of worship.
“Social distancing is important and should be observed, with no physical contact and ensure there is 1.5m between persons. Even with the prescribed social distancing, wearing of masks is compulsory for the duration of the church service.
“All religious leaders or persons in charge should ensure that any religious ritual that requires personal contact may not be performed during religious activity,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
The minister said the regulations were formulated after wide consultation with the religious sector.
“Health and safety measures at places of worship should be made a priority. All religious leaders or persons in charge must develop plans and protocols on how they will manage the reopening, while ensuring there are not more than 50 persons within the place of worship at a time.
“The religious leaders or persons in charge should ensure health, hygiene and social distancing requirements are observed, and ensure that every person entering a place of worship wears a cloth face mask covering both mouth and nose,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
She said washing of hands or sanitisation should be undertaken prior to worship and continually during and after the service.
“Every place of worship has to ensure there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitisers available, which all attendees are required to use. Places of worship are required to keep a register which must be retained for a period of six months detailing names, contact details, residential addresses and contact persons,” she said.
The regulations also require all people who enter places of worship to be screened for symptoms associated with Covid-19. These include coughing, fever, a sore throat, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing.
“Anyone who presents these symptoms should not be allowed to enter a place of worship. Any persons over the age of 60 years and those with comorbidities are encouraged to continue worshiping at home,” said Dlamini-Zuma.