Last night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that churches, mosques, and synagogues may open subject to strict restrictions. Places of worship will only be allowed to have 50 people or less, will have to thoroughly sanitised before and after services, and any religious practices which expose worshipers to infection will have to be avoided.
Here are five questions for parents to ask themselves before going to church:
How will you know that there are 50 people in the space you are in?
Consider that you are going into a situation where you are not in full control. Will you be able to receive confirmation that the numbers are within the allowed safety protocols before you enter the premises? Will you also be turned back if you are number 51?
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Does your church have the structures to coordinate adherence to safety precautions?
If for instance there are more than 50 people on any given service day, the church needs to have the capabilities to coordinate the changes that will come with new Covid-19 safety precautions. For example, they would need to draw up a schedule to determine which 50 people attend services on which day, thereby ensuring that all congregants get a chance to attend a service each month. Every member needs to have a mask, and their hands need to be sanitized. This process will have to be strictly managed by the church.
Will you take your children and grandparents with you to church?
In normal reality, you would probably attend church as a family. With the new Covid-19 reality its a case of the more people, the more risk. Will you take your children to church. Will you take your grandmother who is also on the high-risk groups? Some families have more than 2 children, and this might add to the maximum number of people allowed in the church. The management of this will be crucial. So, if you have children and old parents, would you potentially be advised to stay home?
Does your church have a budget for deep cleaning?
This may not be an issue everywhere but there are places of worship where the money is tight. Will your place of worship have the budget to conduct deep cleaning of the place before and after each service?
Will congregation members receive confirmation that your place of worship has been deep cleaned before you enter?
Places of worship are required to deep clean premises before and after each service. Will yours be able to give you proof that this has been done before you enter the premises? How will the members be assured that the church is indeed following santisation protocol?