Important Guidelines – Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’

A letter from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba:

Dear People of God 

Please find for careful study and implementation an important report and recommendations from the Provincial COVID Advisory Team on the second wave of the coronavirus now being experienced in many parts of our Province. 

Key implications of the report: 

    • Most urgent, in South Africa, all faith-based institutions have to be closed by 9pm in the evenings, whether events are held indoors or outdoors. This means ensuring all Christmas Eve services are finished by 9pm on Thursday. 

    • The Advisory Team recommends that services be restricted to 80 worshippers, where that number can be accommodated while observing social distancing of 1,5 metres. Where capacity is smaller, places of worship should not be more than 50% full. 

    • In South Africa, the latest regulations in any event limit attendance of a funeral to 100, observing 1,5m social distancing, or 50% of capacity where 100 cannot be accommodated. Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings, such as “after-tears” events, are prohibited. 

    •  In some churches, mask-wearing, proper sanitising and the prohibition on handshakes and singing without masks is not being observed.  

    • Where possible, we should return to on-line services and Diocesan bishops should seriously consider requests from parishes who wish to close for Christmas due to local conditions where such requests are properly motivated.  

    • Older people are often those who are most lonely in lockdown, but those over 60 and have co-morbidities are still the most vulnerable and ought to avoid returning to services. 

    • A vaccine is our best and only defence against the virus. We need to participate in advocacy efforts to see that access to the vaccine happens on a just and equitable basis. We need to support education initiatives around the vaccine and call for vaccination as  a common good. 

    • We need to focus anew on addressing food insecurity and other social needs and also strengthen our response to this is a more intentional way. As a mark of solidarity and hospitality to honour the birth of the Christ child in a manger, we should consider donating food, school shoes or a stationery pack instead of buying presents.

    • Since the Advisory Team met, it has become evident that new infections are highest in the 15-19 age group, so where possible the number of servers should also be reduced for the time being. 

Please read the accompanying report carefully. I am sure you will all join me in thanking the Advisory Team for their extensive and detailed work.  

 God bless you. 

†† Thabo Cape Town

You can download the report here >>

Note: The report has been amended and replaced since first published to make point 4(c) on page 7 clearer.

5 replies on “Important Guidelines – Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’”

We have a culture of visiting homes who have experienced death in their families, kindly comment on this as well there is traffic in communities on this.

From the Provincial Covid-19 Advisory Group:

We completely understand the need and the culture of visiting bereaved families. These are however unusual times and as you are aware prayer meetings and funeral gatherings are seen as superspreader events. If visiting has to be undertaken please do not stay long, ensure the room is well ventilated, avoid touching and hugging the bereaved or other mourners, always keep on your mask, sanitize and maintain social distancing. This is both for your health and that of the family whom you are visiting to comfort.

Our approach towards our manner of doing church by making people entirely dependent on regular attendance, today unfortunately military’s against what we could, otherwise, be using to mitigate the situation by making worshippers, in a sense, independent and being able to worship individually, as family units or community cells.
The new clutching normal, unfortunately, compels us to say, ‘Home is the place for worship.’
Congregating at church buildings appears not a good a recommendation anymore. Even events like baptisms and funerals can be conducted at homes with much smaller numbers of attendees and only move to cemeteries for internment.
The Church should be more concerned with establishing prayer cells and counselling services to keep people intact and relieved of the pandemic stress.
A rather more holistic approach could be envisaged to save people’s lives.And when we survive this holocaust, well emerge stronger and more formidable in faith.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has echoed the views of scientists that people over 60 are more vulnerable than younger people to serious illness or death if they contract the virus, therefore they ought to be particularly cautious about returning to worship.

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