“We have had fruitful discussions with leaders of the interfaith religious community on their proposals for the partial opening of spiritual worship and counselling services, subject to certain norms and standards,” Ramaphosa said in a national address on Sunday evening.
For now, all public gatherings – apart from funerals and office meetings – will remain banned when the country enters Level 3 on 1 June.
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) said that it had urged Ramaphosa at a meeting this week to allow places of worship to reopen under Level 3 of the lockdown under strict guidelines, including physical distancing.
The SACC proposed that churches would follow the same rules which guide funerals.
Currently, only 50 people are allowed to attend a funeral.
Devastating financial impact
The council also said that the lockdown has had a devastating impact on the finances of churches and asked for financial relief from the government.
During his address on Sunday evening, Ramaphosa also wished Muslim South Africans well for Eid, which will take place on Monday.
“They have all gone through a period of sacrifice, which should ordinarily be followed by a celebration. We wish to thank them for making the necessary adjustments to this celebration as we continue to fight this pandemic together.”
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has urged the Muslim community to exercise physical distancing and to stay at home during Eid, saying the day could become a “super-spreading event”.
“If you have already made plans to have meals together, rather order the same meal, but have it delivered and eat it separately in your own home, joining virtually using phone/Zoom/WhatsApp, and other technologies,” the MJC advised.