By our reporter

After only five days have passed since the government of Rwanda recommended Faith-Based Organizations to present it measures that they could use to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in worship places, the Rwanda Inter-Religious Council has on Thursday June 11 submitted a statement to Rwanda Governance Board (RGB).

Signed by the Vice –President of the Rwanda Inter-Religious Council Archbishop Dr Laurent Mbanda, the statement compiles various preventive measures to be observed to avoid the spread of the pandemic once restrictions on worship places are eased.

Worship places are among the activities that have remained closed since the end of March.

Though not yet given greenlight, the measures pitched by the Inter-religious council may give us some food for thought about how the churches may look like when government allows their reopening.

Take a look at the measures suggested by the council to government for review and approval:

The Rwanda Inter-Religious Council representatives were also recommended to sensitize, educate and examine whether religious leaders are observing the guidelines that are in place.

In response to government’s recommendations, the Rwanda Inter-religious council compiled preventive measures and published them on June 11. Take a look:

Order during service

Preachers and priests are allowed not to wear masks when they are on altar.

Reduction of the number of worshipers on stage to respect social distancing.

Shaking hands and hugging are forbidden. Sharing the same microphone is prohibited. Respecting social distancing during holy communion.

Overnights and concerts are not allowed, social prayer rooms not allowed, children’s prayers are not allowed, cells are not allowed.

Laying hands on people in prayer is forbidden, sharing Bibles among other books is not allowed.

Among other measures is avoid circulation of offering baskets and instead embrace the use of technology to offer such as Mobile Money, money transfer and Bank Transfer.

Religious ceremonies

Religious weddings should not exceed 50 attendants and all should respect all guidelines in place, isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

Baptism for the Protestants and Adventists is not allowed.

For Muslims in addition to the mentioned guidelines, they are also instructed to bring one mat for each person, use Quran downloaded in their mobile phones, avoiding touching on Quran and other books in the Mosque.

Hygiene

Cleaning worship places before and after the services, setting up washing hand methods and use of sanitizers, and using temperature testing devices.

Special surveillance on the usage of latrines.

Respect of social distancing while seated, wearing masks during the service, sensitizing people on the guidelines to curb the pandemic, and delegating a group of volunteers to oversee the implementation of guidelines during the services.

For churches that have many congregants and hold more than one service on Sunday, there should be a space of at least 1 hour between the services.

Save for Sunday services, other church services during working days should remain postponed, according to the statement.