Easter celebrations will again be different for churches this year
Cape Town - With Easter weekend around the corner, churches are gearing up to celebrate the Passover in a rather unique fashion for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
During his address on Tuesday President Cyril Ramaphosa said religious gatherings over the Easter period will be restricted to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.
He said where the venue was too small to accommodate the numbers with appropriate social distancing, no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used. Ramaphosa also cautioned congregants to not gather outside their usual places of worship, and not sleep over after services.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa said in response to questions, its main services will have to be shorter than usual as there will be fewer people in their churches.
“But especially in urban areas, many people will watch the services webcast live online. Usually Easter services are packed, but the limitations on numbers will mean many people cannot be physically present this year. All congregations have compliance officers to enforce the regulations and keep worshippers safe - to make sure people register to attend, that they keep social distancing, wear masks, sanitise. We should always remember that human life is sacred and that every possible step must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus,” the church said.
Bel-Perezim Apostolic Church International in Elsies River, apostle Fredrico Hendricks said they will take the church to the people while observing lockdown regulations.
“We have to celebrate Passover and Easter because it's part of our belief and faith and is also an essential part of being a child of God. It's a cement that keeps us close to God and seals our covenant with God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the core of what passover is about,” he said.
Pastors Against Church Closure movement leader Pastor Siniko Nxesi said there wasn't much to celebrate from what the president has announced.
He said, however they believed this was a move towards the right direction.
“It's going to be a lot of work for churches who must comply with what the government has put in place. We have been compliant, hence there are no cases linked to the churches since the lockdown began.
“Under normal circumstances churches are places of order. There are churches that are going to have a nightmare where they will have to send back people. Most churches have data which they use in terms of people registering before they come to church.
“There are already procedures in place to deal with such matters, as we have been practising this for more than a year. We had to get around it and get ways to make it work,” he said.
Nxesi said churches were not superspreader events, and that they were still demanding churches to be opened on a 50% basis.