Amen! Congregational worship to be allowed at level 3

The president has announced that churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other recognised places of worship may resume services on level 3, but the congregations will be limited to 50 people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on Thursday, 23 April 2020. Picture: GCIS

PRETORIA - President Cyril Ramphosa on Tuesday confirmed that congregational worship would be allowed when the country moved to level 3 lockdown on 1 June.

Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other recognised places of worship may resume services but the congregations will be limited to 50 people.

The president added that social distancing must be observed and that congregants must wear face masks in line with the current regulations.

Ramaphosa explained that the decision came following discussions with religious leaders where a number of proposals were put forward to the National Coronavirus Command Council. The proposals were discussed and it was determined that the council should accede to the proposals, but in accordance with certain norms and standards.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that all religious organisations needed to put protocols in place for the thorough cleaning of places of worship before and after services and they needed to ensure that any religious rituals that carried even the slightest possibility of exposure to worshipers should be avoided. Where these rituals formed an essential part of religious practices, sanitation was of paramount importance.

Religious leaders will be recognised as essential front line workers for the purpose of spiritual counselling to members of their faith organisations.

The president added that while religious leaders would continue to officiate at funerals, these were still restricted to just 50 people.

"Our religious leaders occupy a position of immense trust and authority in our communities and need to play a proactive role in raising the level of public awareness around the coronavirus in their services, in faith communication groups and through their pastoral work and activities," President Ramaphosa said.

"We welcome the offers that our religious leaders have made to make their facilities available for the fight against the coronavirus by providing additional space for school lessons, for quarantine, for screening and testing and for places of shelter for survivors of gender-based violence. This we are grateful for," the president added.


President Ramaphosa also urged all South Africans to heed the call of spiritual leaders to observe a national day of prayer on 31 May.

"On this day, wherever we may be, I call upon you to turn your thoughts to all who have been affected by this pandemic. On this day, we should remember those who are working to keep us safe, those who are suffering and grieving. Whether you are a person of faith or not, there is one belief that unites us, and that is our belief in South Africa, in its people, in their courage and in their ability to overcome even the greatest of tribulations."

WATCH: Ramaphosa updates nation on religious gatherings