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No social distancing in most places of worship

By Anyango Otieno | October 5th 2020

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions by President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have come as a blessing to many churches countrywide.

Yesterday, the places of worship opened doors for hundreds and thousands of their congregants.

They did this, defying the announcement made last week by Interfaith Council Chairperson Archbishop Anthony Muheria on a phased reopening and social distancing.

Muheria had said the reopening of places of worship must adhere to the 1.5 meters physical distancing directive.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed that only a third of the normal congregation should be allowed in churches.

At AIPCA Church in Murang'a County, where Deputy President William Ruto worshiped yesterday, the church appeared full and very little or no social distancing was observed.

The DP, also made various stopovers on his way from the church, addressing crowds that never bothered about social distancing.

At United Christian Ministries in Kawangware, where former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was in attendance, some little social distancing was observed, with benches and plastic chairs spaced out.

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However, like Ruto, Raila left the church to address a series of roadside rallies, where no social distancing was observed.

A spot-check by The Standard revealed a few places of worship observed the social distancing rule. At Hosanna Chapel Ministries in Nairobi's Kahawa West, the 1.5 distance between church members was adhered to, though not strictly, as children could be seen sharing seats.

Muheria told The Standard the Interfaith Council continued to encourage church leaders to enforce the social distancing rules because the virus had not been eliminated.

However, he said, the wave of carefree attitude from political leaders and the seeming perception that the Covid-19 infection curve had been flattened were to blame for the recklessness and disregard for social distancing directive.

He urged the media to do more to remind Kenyans that the pandemic was still wreaking havoc.

“The media needs to call out leaders who flaunt the Covid-19 restrictions, especially those who hold rallies, disregarding social distancing rule. Kenyans must be reminded that coronavirus is still with us," said Muheria.

He further asked media to call out leaders who appear in public without masks and shake hands, making a mockery of the restrictions.

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