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Faith community made huge contribution in fighting COVID-19 - Ramaphosa

The president on Tuesday evening said religious institutions had suffered greatly during the lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday evening said government decided to partially re-open places of worship because their closure had had a devastating impact on various communities.

Ramaphosa said the faith community was an integral part of the country.

“The faith community is an integral part of South African life and has made a great contribution in the fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

South Africa is expected to move to level 3 lockdown in June with eased regulations for religious organisations, but with restrictions.

The president said religious institutions had suffered greatly during the lockdown.

“We understand the great impact that the closure of places of worship have had on members of the faith community, and that this has worsened the distress of communities who are unable to worship in congregation,” Ramaphosa said.

“Our leaders in the faith community provide spiritual guidance, care, and counselling to millions of South Africans, and we are immensely grateful that from the beginning of our task of addressing this health crisis they have stood with us and provided advice, guidance, support, and encouragement from the very beginning,” he added.

WATCH: Ramaphosa: Places of worship may reopen under strict conditions

He said it was time to allow them to re-open but under strict conditions.

“After consideration, following consultation with our religious leaders, we have therefore determined that as part of the regulations for alert level 3, the current restrictions on congregational worship will be eased in a carefully measured way,” the president said.

“Places of worship may re-open subject to strict restrictions, which are absolutely necessary if we are to prevent infections from rising in accordance with norms and standards that will be set out in the regulations. Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other recognised places of worship may resume services, but these will be limited in size to 50 people or less depending on the space available,” he added.

Ramaphosa said religious leaders would also be recognised as essential services workers for the purposes of spiritual counselling to members of their congregations.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.