South African President Allows Re-Opening Of Places Of Worship Starting June
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced that places of worship will reopen in the country starting June 1, but, only 50 people will be allowed to gather at one time, reported Reuters.
“Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other recognized places of worship may resume services, but these will be limited in size to 50 people or less depending on the space available,” Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement which also called for a national day of prayer on May 31.
The South African government had brought the country to a complete halt in late March, when the government enforced restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus by barring people from leaving their homes for any non-essential purposes. The virus has so far infected 23,615 people in South Africa and killed 481.
While the government has eased the lockdown measures, some strict restrictions will continue to be imposed to limit the further spread of the coronavirus.
“This pandemic has … taken a toll on us emotionally and spiritually. It has shaken our sense of well-being and security. Many of us are anxious and fearful of both the present and the future,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
The president said social distancing will have to be observed at all prayer facilities and worshippers will have to wear face masks as per current health regulations. He acknowledged the important role that religious leaders play in their communities, including spiritual counseling and leading prayers.
The lockdown in South Africa will be downgraded to level three of the five-level lockdown system from June, allowing the vast majority of the economy to return to full capacity. But, any particular region could be put back to a four or five alert level if its infection rate spikes.
South African Airways (SAA) is also likely to resume domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town from mid-June. The airline will however extend cancellations of all regional and intercontinental flights until the end of June.