Places of worship to reopen under stringent guidelines

Worshippers arrange chairs one metre apart at Talents Revival Church in Elburgon, Nakuru County, a month ago. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Daily Nation

You are now free to pray in your house of worship, but you will have to wait a little longer to go clubbing, drink in a bar or attend a wedding.

President Kenyatta yesterday authorised phased reopening of places of worship under strict conditions aimed at halting the coronavirus surge, including the self-regulating guidelines developed by the inter-faith council.

The decision follows negotiations between religious leaders, the National Security Council and the national emergency response committee on Covid-19.

PUBLIC HEALTH

For congregational prayers to be allowed, churches and mosques are required to adhere to social distancing, hygiene, public health measures and a raft of business guidelines from the department of public health.

As such, only 100 congregants at any given session will be allowed in places of worship.

The prayer sessions, the President said, should not take more than 60 minutes, meaning some churches will have to rush through or shorten their services.

Under 13-year-olds and older people aged 58 years and above, as well as those with underlying conditions such as hypertension and diabetes will have to continue praying from home.

“Sunday schools and Madrassas shall remain suspended until further notice,” he said.

The President extended the closure of bars for another 30 days with the option of offering ‘take-away’ services only.

A MAXIMUM OF 15

He also restricted social gatherings of any nature including political rallies, weddings and funerals for another 30 days.

“The restrictions on the number of persons who can attend weddings and funerals is extended for a further period of 30 days,” he said.

Currently, a maximum of 15 people are allowed to attend social gatherings and even then, the government advises against holding the events.

At least 9,000 bars, entertainment spots, and restaurants have remained closed in Nairobi and Mombasa.

More than 20,000 joints countrywide are shut, the Pubs Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya says.

The President’s decision was guided by the members of the National Covid-19 Task Force chaired by Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and Director-General Patrick Amoth.

The team advises the National Emergency Response Committee, which in turn advises the President.

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