IMPORTANT POINTS TO BE CONSIDERED REGARDING THE OPENING OF CHURCHES FOR WORSHIP SERVICES.
It is the responsibility of the Senior Pastor to ensure that any gathering of people for worship complies with every aspect of the published Government Gazetted Covid-19 regulations. Failure to do so carries the risk of arrest and punitive legal consequences. For this reason, Senior Pastors are advised to carefully plan and discuss their resumption of services strategy with their leaders and volunteers, with a view to the careful consideration as to whether their church is able to comply with every detail of the Government’s regulations as published in the Government Gazette.
We have a responsibility to our nation and community to play our part in the fight against Covid-19 and the control of it’s transmission and spread.
- HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES AT PLACES OF WORSHIP:
- All religious leaders or persons in charge of places of worship must:
(a) ensure that every person entering a place of worship wears a face mask covering the nose and mouth:
(b) develop a plan for gatherings at the place of worship which incorporates measures set out in these Directions and the Regulations: and they will ensure that there are no more than 50 persons present in total at any one time.
(c) develop a plan for the maintaining of protocols on how they will ensure that there are no more than 50 persons within the place of worship at a time.
- Every place of worship must implement the following health and safety measures:
(a) Screen every person entering the place of worship for symptoms associated with COVID -19, namely fever, cough, sorethroat, shortness of breath, or difficulty in breathing:
(b) require every person to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms such as body aches. loss of smell or loss of taste. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness; and
(c) require every person to immediately inform the religious leader or person in charge of the religious activity if they experience any of the symptoms referred to above while at the place of worship.
- If a person presents with those symptoms, or advises the religious leader or person in charge of the religious activity or person of these symptoms, the person in charge of the religious activity must:
(a) not permit the person to enter the place of worship; or
(b) if the person is already at the place of worship, immediately isolate the person, and assist the person, to make arrangements to be transported. in a manner that does not place other persons or members of the public at risk, for a medical examination and testing;
(c) assess the risk of transmission, disinfect the area and refer those persons who may be at risk for screening and take any other appropriate measure to prevent possible transmission:
(d) obtain from the person who is to be isolated the contact details. including name, address and telephone numbers of the people they have been in contact with since entering the place of worship (i.e. keep a detailed register): and
(e) a person who has tested positive of COVID-19 must immediately inform the religious leader of any religious activity he or she has participated in, 14 days prior to the positive test result.
- A person may not enter a place of worship if they have any of the symptoms of COVID -19 referred to in paragraphs (2)(a) and (2)(b) above.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING
- Every religious leader or person in charge of the place of worship must
(a) there is no physical contact between persons at the place of worship;
(b) there is a minimum of one and a half metres between persons:
(c) all social distancing measures and health protocols are adhered to at all times; and
(d) singing of hymns is limited to solo performances, or pre-recorded performances during the religious service or activity. (i.e. no singing by the congregation)
(e) where the religious activity, such as preaching or leading worship, cannot be performed with face masks, the distance between persons must be increased to 2,5 meters.
- PERSONAL PROTECTION
- (a)Wearing of face masks is compulsory for the duration of any religious activity.
(b) any religious ritual that requires personal contact may not be performed during any religious activity. (i.e. laying on of hands, embracing, hugging, etc.)
(c) any person counting offerings or gifts must sanitise their hands before, during and after the counting of offerings or gifts and must ensure that he or she does not touch his or her face during the process.
D: SANITISERS, DISINFECTANTS AND OTHER MEASURES:
- (a) a hand sanitiser must have at least 70% alcohol content or a generic alternative with a similar sanitising effect, which is in accordance with the recommendations of the Department of Health.
(b) every place of worship should ensure that -
(i) there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser available at the entrance of. and in the place of worship, which all attendees are required to use; and
(ii) there are facilities for the washing of hands with water and soap.
(b) Every place of worship should implement measures to ensure that before and after religious activities;
(i) all surfaces and equipment are cleaned before and after religious activities to ensure that the place of worship is sanitised before the next religious activity commences;
(ii) that there is no sharing of equipment, objects or religious scriptures (i.e. Bibles); and
(iv) all areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles, electronic equipment and objects are sanitised as regularly as possible, as required in the circumstances to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- HEALTH PROTOCOLS FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP:
- (a) Religious leaders and persons in charge of places of worship must ensure that seating arrangements, where applicable, are compliant with social distancing norms.
(b) A place of worship must keep a register which must be retained for a period of not less than 6 months. with the following details of each person attending the religious activity:
(i) Full names;
(ii) residential address;
(iii) cell number, telephone number or e-mail address; and
(iv) contact details of persons living in the same residence as the person attending the religious activity.
(c) All attendees should be informed about the dangers of COVID -19 and how to prevent it.
(d) Social activities before and after the religious activity is not allowed.
(e) Where places of worship remain open to the public for visits, prayer or counselling, the provisions of these Directions apply.
(f) No substance or liquid may be shared between persons. (e.g. Communion elements.)
(g) Any person over the age of 60 and persons with co- morbidities are encouraged to continue worshiping at home.
(h) All funeral services conducted in places of worship must be limited to 50 persons in line with the restriction on funerals as per the Regulations.
- These Directions come into operation on 1 June 2020.