KAMPALA — Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has confirmed that Churches reopened several weeks ago for in-person services after having been closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus will be allowed to increase capacity this month.
Dr. Aceng issued the new guidance Monday evening saying places of worship can increase from a capacity of 70 people to a maximum of 200 people.
The institutions are still required to adhere to social distancing directives, sanitize regularly and keep attendance records for contact tracing in case someone tests positive for coronavirus.
Still, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions have been urged to stay home, according to sources.
“The number of people attending political rallies, processions, weddings, meetings are increased from 70 to not more than 200 people,” Dr. Aceng said in a release.
“This must be accompanied by strict physical distancing of 2 meters, hand hygiene and wearing a face mask when in public,” she added.
“This decision was made following considerable compliance of the SOPs in most schools and places of worship, and from the ongoing epidemiological assessments of the outbreak, we have not seen a concomitant increase of transmission related to this,” she said.
It should be noted that many churches especially those in the central business district Kampala, remained closed to public worship even when the President allowed their reopening; a case in point, Watoto Church which has several centres spread out across the country.
The Associate Team leader, Pastor Rwotlonyo explained then that with government restrictions limiting the number of worshipers to only 70, “it would be meaningless to resume corporate prayers at such a time.”
The preacher was however quick to note that small groups known as ‘home cells’ were allowed to resume.
Government issued new guidance in September after facing mounting criticism and defiant churches. The President, Yoweri K. Museveni suggested that houses of worship should host 70 people per service and recommended discontinuing practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled coronavirus droplets.