SA churches may resume services but limited to 50 people

In an announcement that followed a lot of criticism from the religious sector, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that church services may resume under Level 3 of the national lockdown.

In his address on Tuesday evening, leading a call for a National Day of Prayer, Ramaphosa said the government understood the great impact that the closure of places of worship have had on members of the faith community, which he says has worsened the distress of communities who are unable to worship in congregation.

“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,” says Ramaphosa.

He has, however, cautioned that social distancing will have to be observed and all worshippers and participants will have to wear face masks in line with the current regulations.

“All religious organisations must put protocols in place for, among other things, thoroughly cleaning and sanitising places for worship before and after services.”

One of the proposals the government has received from the religious sector is that there should be a National Day of Prayer. Ramaphosa says this will take place on the 31st of May.

“I therefore urge all South Africans to heed the call of the leaders of our various faith communities for a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, the 31st of May, when we will once again come together to pray for the healing of our land and the protection of our people.”

Since the lockdowns began churches have had to be shut down and annual Easter gatherings cancelled. However, with the government’s decision to ease the regulations under Level 3, allowing schools to reopen and certain products like alcohol to be sold for home consumption, criticism was piling on the government to reopen churches too.

Various churches are yet to respond and give indication on how they are going to go ahead with holding services with the eased regulations.

President Ramaphosa addressed the media where he led a call for a National Day of Prayer.