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Several rural churches remain closed in Teso over COVID-19 SOPs

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several places of worship have remained closed in parts of Teso nearly a month after the government allowed public prayers to partially resume.

After close to seven months of inactivity as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease, places of worship were allowed to reopen on condition that attendance is restricted to only 70 people in addition to strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

Many of the churches in urban areas quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’ as they resumed services. However, most of the rural worship places have remained closed after failing to acquire infrared thermometers and handwashing facilities.

Mathew Omagor, the Bishop of Central Teso Pentecostal Assemblies of God says that only about a quarter of the 350 churches in his pastorate have complied and resumed prayers. He explained that the pastorate has been conducting training for their church leaders to ensure that the community doesn’t get infected with the virus while in worship places.

He notes that his pastorate has put in place conditions for churches to resume and any that doesn’t comply won’t be allowed to open.

Fr. Robert Echogu, the Vicar General of Soroti Catholic Diocese says that most of the rural communities have adapted family fellowships where a few households converge in one area for prayers. He explains that the lockdown reorganized communities to embrace fellowships, now bringing together neighbours.

“In most cases, the people in the villages are comfortable praying together with members they know their travel history other than designated worship areas that may attract new members. Our catechists are strict on SOPs and where congregational prayers have resumed especially in urban areas, we now run more services than it used to be”, he said.

Fr. Echogu added that the lockdown has given rise to the development of talents in church service as more family members have taken a lead in conducting fellowships. Soroti Catholic Diocese issued a notice to church leaders not to open unless they have fulfilled all the requirements in line with COVID-19 guidelines.

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