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Kenya’s Interfaith Council Urges Vigilance Following Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions

Members of the Interfaith Council in Kenya/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Kenya’s Interfaith Council mandated to guide the resumption of public worship amid COVID-19 pandemic is urging caution following the latest easing of the coronavirus restrictions in the East African nation.

“Dear Kenyans, we must still remain vigilant to the dangers this pandemic still poses even as the restrictions are lifted,” members of the Interfaith Council in Kenya say in their Tuesday, May 4 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They call upon Kenyans to “be more responsible and not become reckless.” 

On May 1, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the suspension he had placed on public worship in the Counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru, which lie in the jurisdiction of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi and parts of Ngong, Nakuru and Machakos Dioceses.

Public workshop in these four Kenyan Dioceses had been suspended indefinitely on March 26 amid a spike in reported cases of COVID-19 in the country.

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Kenya has recorded at least 160,904 cases of the coronavirus including 2,805 deaths and 109,217 recoveries. 

In their May 4 statement signed by the Chairman of the Council, Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese, the representatives of religious leaders direct that public worship in the five counties resume while adhering to the one-third capacity of the places of worship and that the duration of each service does not exceed 120 minutes.

The members of the body constituted in June 2020 further direct that “where possible the services can be held in open places, keeping strict social distancing of 1.5m without exception, with large circulation spaces.”

They note that worshippers “must still avoid any common use of water or shared items.”

“It is paramount that we do not lower our guard in adhering strictly to the wearing of masks at all times in the worship service; the washing of hands with soap or sanitization before and after the service; sanitizing of all microphones and shared material; regular sanitizing of the places of worship; adequate social distancing in the places of worship,” the Interfaith Council members say. 

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They also appeal to Kenya’s religious leaders “to reiterate the importance of the preventive measures especially of wearing masks at all times in all public places.”

“We moreover urge all Kenyans to get vaccinated, as this is the most definitive way to contain the power of the virus,” the members of the Catholic Archbishop-led Interfaith Council say and go on to thank religious leaders in the country “for their efforts during this difficult period.”

“You have been outstanding in encouraging your congregations and ensuring compliance to the Interfaith Guidelines in places of Worship,” they say and further ask religious leaders to “keep demanding strict adherence to these guidelines.”

They continue in reference to religious leaders in Kenya, “The Nation still needs your tireless cooperation to maintain the focus of all Kenyans, and give them hope in their diverse circumstances.”

Cognizant of the fact that Kenyans may have become tired of the COVID-19 restrictions since March 2020, the members of the council say that it is the duty of religious leaders “to keep this fight against the covid enemy alive.” 

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Addressing themselves to the faithful who have stayed away from public worship since March 26, the 16-member Interfaith Council, which has two other Catholic Bishops as members, calls on them “to remember especially those still ailing from covid, those who have lost their loved ones, and those still struggling with the economic effects of the virus. Our prayers are with all these families.”

“We also remember those in other countries like India, who are in a major covid crisis. Let us raise our prayers even more intensely to God asking for an end to this pandemic,” they say.

The members of the Interfaith Council also “applaud our health workers who for the past 14 months have worked tirelessly and in dangerous environments of infection.”

“May the Lord continue blessing you and your families,” they implore.