Winde urges churches to halt in-person Christmas services as COVID-19 cases rise

Wester Cape Premier Alan Winde said that he has requested that all gatherings, congregations, masses and prayer ceremonies not be held in-person.

FILE: Congregants at a church service. Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has called on churches to halt in-person Christmas services and gatherings to prevent further COVID-19 transmissions as the province continues to peak.

He has met with the faith-based sector to update them on the management of the COVID-19 resurgence.

The province has the highest number of active cases in the country right now, with over 40,000 fighting the virus.

Winde said that he has requested that all gatherings, congregations, masses and prayer ceremonies not be held in-person.

"It was agreed with faith-based organisations that we will continue to follow the best practices that they've instituted and where possible, we will make sure that there will be online services, we will restrict inside services..."

He said that alternatively, services could be outside, for shorter periods and with a fewer number of people.

The South African Council of Churches' Mzwandile Molo said that they understood the situation that the country was facing and was appealing to every church to take precautions.

"The reality is that we ahve to say to those people who have co-morbidities not to attend any church service and we need to make sure that those numbers are as low as possible so that we do not become super-spreaders."

He added that churches were not meant to be places of death but places of hope and life.

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