The Ministry of Local Government has set up new measures that will see worshipers in churches and mosques put on masks while singing and worshiping in their official places of gathering which have been closed due to Covid-19.
The 25 regulations published by the ministry of Local Government (Minaloc), come as a follow up on the joint discussions and agreements made between government and the Rwanda Interfaith Council (RIC) held June 22.
In the strict guidelines Minaloc said that all religious organizations will have to be assessed by a joint-task force to ensure all the Covid-19 prevention requirements are in place before any act of religious gathering takes place.
All churches and mosques will have to have a trained team of volunteers who will ensure that the set Covid-19 prevention guidelines are upheld.
What are the guidelines?
The places of worship were required to put in place a group of volunteers who will on the first day of resuming prayers have to gather and assess the environment.
The same volunteers will always precede everyone at the place to assist the congregations in COVID-19 prevention.
The trained church volunteers will, every time that there is a gathering, register details of all participants so as to have a track record of the members wherever needed be.
The worship places must have hand washing facilities.
All worshipers and choirs members must put on a face mask even while singing.
The new regulations require church choirs to put on face masks, keep a 2 meters distance between them. They should not share a microphone.
Seats of participants will respect a 1.5 meter distance.
All worship events will take place between 6am to 6pm and no church or mosque is allowed to hold a prayer session for more than two (2) hours.
Minaloc said that all churches, especially those with different prayer programmes in a day, will have to publish the timeline so that worshipers come aware of the programme.
However there will have to be a time lapse between each of the prayer sessions so that the cleaning can be done- at least in one hour.
Cashless Tithes, Self-service Communion
For tithes, worshippers will only be allowed to use digital cashless payments such as mobile money, bank and mobile transfers to the accounts of their respective churches.
Holy Communion, normally given out in the catholic, Anglican churches will have to be done but with communion receivers keeping a 1-meter distance between each other and using a self-service system.
No hugging, no shaking hands.
It is also prohibited to share musical equipment such as drums, microphones and song books among many others.
Children between 12 to 18years are allowed to attend prayers alongside their parents but not those below this age bracket including breast feeding babies.
It is prohibited to pray for or bless anyone by placing their hands upon the forehead of the Christians, a practice that is very common among evangelical churches in Africa.
“Rwanda Interfaith Council (RIC) and Rwanda Governance Board, local security and health organs will have to follow up the implementation of these guidelines. A church (or Mosque) that will not comply will be closed,” said Minaloc Minister Anastase Shyaka.