Govt Drafts Guidelines for Reopening Places of Worship


Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.
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The Ministry of Health has said it is in discussions with the Interreligious Council of Uganda (IRCU), body that brings together the different religious denominations, to come up with the guidelines requires to re-open churches, mosques and other places of worship.

Churches were part of public places like schools, and bars that were closed by government in March as part of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in Uganda.

In closing churches, President Yoweri Museveni explained that this was because it would be difficult to observe social distancing. 

On Thursday, Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng told reporters in Kampala that the Ministry of Health is in talks with IRCU to devise guidelines under which the places of worship can be allowed to open.

“We have been having discussions with the Interreligious Council of Uganda. We are working on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). We already have a draft, the discussions continue,” the Minister said.

“We will be informing you accordingly as we progress with the discussions”.

It follows a protest from a section of pastors led by Bishop David Kiganda demanding that churches be reopened. 

Kiganda of Christianity Focus Centre Ministries recently addressed reporters along with other pastors while wearing sacks, and said the continued closure of churches is unfair.

He said that despite having complied with the Presidential directives of closing, it appears, he said, every other business has resumed except churches.

“We haven’t lost anyone to Covid. Yet we are ungrateful. The President would be declaring a thanksgiving day in Kololo so the whole country can give thanks to God for the protection. Instead of preparing Namboole stadium for Covid patients that we haven’t seen yet, we should rally people to pour into these stadiums to thank God,” Kiganda said.

The leader of the National Pastors’ Platform of Uganda said it is illogical to close churches yet it’s faith that has kept Uganda safe.

He also attributed to the acts of desperation (like the boda boda rider who recently torched himself to death in Police cells) to the closure of churches where people would otherwise be taught to avoid such acts.

Kiganda refuted claims that the gist of their appeals is to get offertory. 

However, Pastor Wilson Bugembe of the Worship House in Nansana disagreed with calls from Kiganda and others, saying it is okay for government to keep churches closed for another one month if the Covid threat is still serious.

 

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