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Covid-19: Council increases worship time to 90 minutes, expands age limits

Places of worship will accommodate more members and hold meetings for longer from August 18, according to revised guidelines by the Inter-Faith Council.

At a press briefing in Nairobi on Tuesday, council chair Anthony Muheria noted that the decision was based on a review of compliance across the country during the pre-phase launch that commenced on July 14.

Rev Muheria reported a compliance rate of over 90 per cent, saying it indicated good leadership by religious leaders.

“Having seen the high level of compliance in places of worship, we are convinced that Kenyans will now follow the requirements to an acceptable degree, especially in worship gatherings in the course of the week and in their main days,” he said.

New terms
The council announced that the worship time had been increased from an hour to ninety minutes and the age limit changed to six to 65 years.

The limit on the number of worshippers was also revised, with the council saying this will be determined by space available and observance of 1.5 metres of distancing.

This means that larger places of worship will be allowed to accommodate more than 100 persons per service while smaller spaces will retain the 100-person limit.

The age limit of persons allowed in services was revised to over six to 65 years from the initial 13 to 58.

“We shall especially take care to follow the indication of wearing face masks at all times, hand-washing and regular disinfection of places of worship. We urge all those who are elderly, sick or with health conditions to still worship from their homes,” the chair noted.

The announcement came as a relief to several religious leaders who protested the initial limit of 100 persons per service, yet their premises could accommodate more congregants even with adherence to the guidelines on social distancing.

Rev Muheria, however, expressed concern over disregard for the guidelines for funeral services, with less than 10 per cent compliance with guidelines.

In phase one, the number of attendants at funerals has been increased to 100 from the initial 15, provided that social distancing is enforced.

However, Rev Muheria noted, only 15 people will be allowed at the gravesites.

“This is a reasonable number that is not too constricting. We plead [with you to] strictly follow this requirement to contain infections. We also insist that there should not be food sharing as the risk becomes higher when people remove their masks to eat,” he said.