Houses of worship are banking on more than just prayer not to be labelled as agents of spreading coronavirus after they settled on Tuesday next week to reopen for congregants.
How they will behave is one of the matrices that will determine if the country survives this pandemic or drowns in it.
A small lapse could lead to a South Korea kind of situation where one person ‘patient 31’ became a super spreader to over 1,000 others during a religious gathering in March.
Of all the establishments of public gatherings, churches, mosques and temples are the only ones allowed to operate.
Bars and other entertainment joints remain barred from reopening, according to directives given by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his address to the nation on Monday.
Interfaith Council chairman Archbishop Anthony Muheria was cautious as he gave the announcement yesterday imploring churches to follow the guidelines strictly.
“Please let us not rush without preparations,” he implored. “We understand the great eagerness and the longing we have, but with some patience and preparations we can safely reunite, soonest possible in our places of worship.”
However, even as he was making the announcement on the reopening, he appeared to share the same message like what President Kenyatta did say on July 6 – it is all up to you.
While a portion of the responsibility was placed on leaders of the faith, the other was lumped on the congregants’ backs.
“We have encouraged self-regulation and we expect responsibility of the faith leaders in ensuring this is followed for the safety of our people and effective fighting of the pandemic,” Muheria said.
He said each congregation will be required to form a Covid-19 response committee to help and oversee the guidelines.
“Let us be on our knees and pray to be compliant so that there are less restrictive measures or more people are allowed to congregate,” said Muheria.
Wearing of masks, sanitising and adhering to the 1.5 metres social distance guidelines are some of the demands the church must meet to be allowed to continue offering spiritual services.
Muheria said while some churches have bigger halls, which would make the 100 maximum capacity for each service unreasonable, he insisted it should be implemented.
“There are quite a lot of stages in the re-openning process, so let us be patient. As time goes, we will welcome other groups,” he said.
To some extent, the men and women of cloth do believe that the congregants will as well adhere to the protocols themselves.
“We are using individual responsibility. Let them know it is for their good and safety,” said Muheria when he responded to the issue of persons with underlying conditions not being allowed to take part in public worship.