Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament has asked the government to consider re-opening churches and other places of worship with strict observance of Covid-19 standard operating procedures.
In March, President Museveni directed the closure places of worship and others to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
The measure to close places of worship which receive big crowds on different days was not only taken by Uganda but also other countries across the world. However, other countries have taken steps to open places of worship as they ease the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
On Monday, Uganda’s neighbour, Kenya which has registered 8,525 positive COVID-19 cases and 169 deaths announced the resumption of places worship to take effect in the next three weeks.
According to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, the phased reopening of places of worship will see a maximum of 100 congregants allowed into the sanctuaries at a time and not more than one hour. Sunday schools and madrassas remain suspended in the country and congregants under the age of 13 years or above the age of 58 years as well as persons with underlying conditions shall not be allowed in places of worship.
Uganda’s confirmed Covid-19 cases currently stand at 977 with no deaths and places of worship remain closed. Since their closure, different religious leaders transmit services through radios, televisions and other online platforms.
Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding raised a matter of national importance saying that churches play a fundamental role in nurturing the society and people in terms of spiritual nourishment.
Amoding added that churches and other religious bodies should be opened especially during this time when the country is preparing for the 2021 elections. Amoding said that government can avail churches with guidelines of conducting prayers which they can follow.
Mitooma Woman MP Jovah Kamateeka also said that other countries have allowed churches open but with directives to observe standard operating procedures –SOPs and that it was time for Uganda to consider opening places of worship.
The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that churches could operate with SOPs and that her office continues to receive petitions from religious leaders on the matter and that it was time for the government to open up churches and other places of worship.
The First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali said that the government regrets the situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic but they are being careful to save lives. He cited the need for patience as government devises means of taming the spread of coronavirus.
Kadaga directed Moses Ali to ensure that the matter is discussed in Cabinet and reports back to Parliament on Wednesday next week.
The appeal by parliament comes after calls from several religious leaders and faithful asked the President to open churches as the government started the phased easing of the lockdown.