Expectations run high as President likely to address fate of religious gatherings
Irene Githinji, Evans Nyakundi and Robert Ochoro
Expectations are high that President Uhuru Kenyatta could re-open places of worship today amid strict guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19 among worshippers.
A confidential draft report by the Inter-Religious Council which has been working on a roadmap to guide the re-opening of places of worship and seen by People Daily spells out strict measures to be enforced at all places of worship should the President sanction their re-opening today.
Attempts to reach the Council’s head, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Catholic diocese yesterday over the draftdocument were futile as it emerged he was held up in meetings for better part of the day.
However, the document listed a raft of measures to be strictly enforced should the places of worship be reopened, ranging from barring children below the age of two and over 65-year-olds from going to church to ensuring services strictly run for about an hour.
There are proposals to ensure proper physical distancing should churches re-open, where seats could be placed one meter apart and areas clearly marked.
Worshippers are expected to strictly wear appropriate masks and ensuring thermometer guns are available to check temperature.
There is also a proposal to ensure sanitizers are provided and no direct interaction and also set aside a room for isolation.
The Muheria-led team has been working round the clock to ensure they submit the report advising Government on best possible strategies that allow more participatory mode of worship under the coronavirus pandemic.
Muheria has been categorical that focus should not be so much on reopening worship places but whether this will be done in the right manner to avoid further spread.
“Opening of our public worship will largely depend on how we, Kenyans, decide to comply with all those indications we are receiving from Government.
It also depends on how we protect our sisters and brothers by following measures and thereby making it safe even to meet with minimal risks,” Muheria said when the council was inaugurated mid last month.
This came as sharp divisions emerged among different churches in Nyamira county on whether or not the government should lift the ban on public places of worship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The leadership of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church) in Nyamira maintained it’s firm stand that it would only open churches for public worship after ministry of Health declares the right time.
Nyamira County SDA conference chairman, Dr Thomas Nyakundi said closing churches does not mean forsaking their faith with God but to protect many lives which are a precious gift from God.
Speaking to People Daily, Nyakundi said that even though churches are not opened, they were still doing their work of preaching the word of God through prayers as church ministers .
He said that the same should apply to schools, adding that once the pandemic has been addressed, the schools should be allowed to open and operate freely.