NATIONAL NEWS - Churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship will have to navigate carefully when planning to resume services under the new lockdown Level 3 regulations, which allow a maximum of 50 people to attend services and strict compliance with sanitation and distancing regulations.
Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, said they were satisfied with these restrictions because it was not restricting them from carrying out their duties and their obligations to the devoted.
He said religious leaders were able to impact their members in a unique way because they are seen as leaders who are able to guide them and strengthen their emotional weakness.
“There are no challenges to enduring and enforcing these restrictions. It is more discipline on how to protect yourselves and those around you,” he said.
“Religious leaders would have to work out and appoint someone to count the number of people who enter the temple and if you are the 51st person you’d have to wait outside or in your car for the next service, which would be after an hour.”
Trikamjee said people have been deprived of religious meetings since the beginning of the lockdown, and this would give a renewed opportunity for many to benefit from these services.
Although many churches and their leaders expressed excitement over Tuesday night’s announcement, there have been concerns that it would be impossible for many of the mega-churches to abide by the regulations.
One of the country’s biggest multigenerational and multicultural churches, the Christian Revival Church (CRC), currently has no plans to resume services at any of its more than 90 churches nationally and internationally.
CRC senior pastor At Boshoff said the safety and spiritual well-being of members remained their top priority and the church would not have any meetings during this time.
He said prayer meetings would resume of no more than 12 people, but under strict safety protocols.
“At the start of this pandemic, I stated clearly that we will fight this virus through faith and wisdom. Our plea to the government has simply been this: allow church leaders to be frontline essential workers to assist in feeding, testing, counselling and sheltering those who are affected most by this pandemic. We are now legally permitted to do so,” Boshoff said.
The spokeswoman for the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), Charisse Zeifert, said the board was concerned about the dangers of opening up the shuls at this stage of the epidemic.
“Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa around the opening of religious services during lockdown Level three, the SAJBD has spent the day in consultation,” said Zeifert.
“We have sought input from communal leadership, rabbis, and have had ongoing consultation with our medical experts.
“The SAJBD has concerns about the real dangers of opening up our shuls at this current stage of the pandemic and we will be raising these concerns with our communal leadership,” said Zeifert.
Meanwhile, the national office of the Apostolic Faith Mission was concluding a brief that was to be sent to all churches on the guidelines and measures which services were to abide by.
The brief included preliminary decisions as feedback from the government were not clear.