, 11 August, 2020 / 11:00 PM
Extended duration of public worship and the age limit for participation are among the new guidelines in Kenya announced Tuesday, August 11 by the Catholic Archbishop-led Interfaith Council.
Set to commence August 18, the time for public worship has been extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, Archbishop Anthony Muheria announced August 11 during a Press Conference in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
The leadership of the 16-member Council also reviewed the age limit of eligible congregants from the previously set 13-58 years to 6-65 years.
Those who are elderly, sick or with health conditions have been advised to “still worship from their homes” in the latest guidelines.
“Numbers will be determined by social distancing (1.5 metres) and size of space available,” Archbishop Muheria announced, easing the previous 100-person restriction.
“We shall especially take care to follow the indication of wearing face masks at all times, hand washing before and after the worship and keeping social distance. We encourage the use of thermal guns,” Kenya’s Interfaith Council Chairman said during the August 11 press conference.
He added, “Please ensure regular disinfection of Places of worship.”
Places of worship in the East African country reopened on July 7 under strict guidelines after being closed since March 22 in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic that has so far infected at least 26,928 people and claimed 423 lives; at least 13,495 patients have recovered.
During the press conference, the leadership of the Interfaith Council expressed appreciation for “exceptional” compliance to COVID-19 guidelines in the pre-opening phase of places of worship by religious leaders and the faithful.
“We have had over 90% compliance in the places of worship that reopened to the public. This is an exceptional performance and example to all in Nation,” Archbishop Muheria said and added, “We thank all religious leaders who have truly shown leadership by sometimes even going an extra mile to ensure safety of our congregants.”
The Archbishop who is the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri however revealed the Interfaith Council’s displeasure at the “continued flouting” of funeral guidelines with a compliance rate of “below 10%.”
“We wish to appeal to us all, our political leaders, our religious leaders, our dear families: We all would wish to have big occasions to bid farewell to our loved ones, but we must not create an opportunity to put others in danger because of our carelessness, and lack of discipline,” the Council Chairman urged.
The leadership of the Interfaith Council also revised upwards the number of funeral attendants from 50 to 100.
“We plead that we strictly follow this requirement in order to contain any infection spread through Funerals,” Archbishop Muheria said and added, “We also insist that there should not be food sharing as the risk becomes even higher when people remove their masks to eat.”
During the press conference, the Interfaith Council Chairman made a “special appeal” to young people.
“You, young people are full of life, and you love being together. For this same reason, you can be an easy avenue for this virus to reach especially our elderly and sick, if you do not take precautions,” he said.
He added in reference to the young people, “Please encourage one another to wear masks and to avoid greeting, hugging, or being together without masks and without social distancing. You are now in the frontline of this battle and we plead with you to commit yourselves and encourage your peers to comply.”
“We urge all Kenyans, whatever your faith, to continue praying to God so that He can bring to an end this terrible scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us not tire in praying, but also, let us place our utmost efforts to humanely combat this enemy,” Kenya’s Interfaith Council Chairman said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa