ACS: Most churches will not reopen soon as precautions take centre stage due to rising Covid-19 cases, Delta variant

Sanitisation works are being carried out in a church in this file photo.

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KUCHING, July 24: Most churches and cathedrals will not reopen this week as the Association of Churches Sarawak (ASC) has advised church leaders to not rush but take extra precaution and ensure safe reopening before welcoming back congregants in view of the rising Covid-19 cases in Kuching and the emergence of the Delta variant.

ACS chairman Archbishop Simon Poh emphasised that heads of churches agreed that they need to be more cautious about reopening as churches and other houses of worship are gathering points for followers and members with diverse social circles of contact coming from different locations in a city, town and surrounding villages.

“A memo has been sent to all heads of churches advising that areas with cases and places under the EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) are not allowed to reopen.

“I also urge for extreme caution and prudence that churches beside those in EMCO areas not to open because of common social circles of contact by people in those affected areas.

“I call on all church leaders to be extra careful by monitoring (the situation) to first ensure that cases are contained or under control before rushing to reopen,” he said in a statement today.

Poh pointed out that the ACS heads of churches had a brief discussion virtually yesterday evening where they agreed on the need to take extra precautions on reopening as soon as this weekend, especially in Kuching where infection cases have been increasing and that the Delta variant has now been detected in Sarawak.

“Most of our churches will not be reopening in view of the current Covid-19 situation.

“For the whole month of June under MCO coupled with mass and aggressive vaccination rollout, the infection curve is slowly being flattened as a whole. Thus it is important that we do not undo the months of sacrifices we have made to contain this wave of Covid-19.

“As Covid-19 infects anyone regardless of culture, race, faith or status, it is important that we as the people of Sarawak and especially in all houses of worship, be it cathedrals, churches, temples, mosques, suraus and other religious centres, to come together as one in mind and heart to play our part in maintaining the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“Let us work together for the common good of all as we seek to contain the current Covid-19 wave,” he said.

Poh emphasised that they will use this week to update the SOPs, conduct in-house revision and training for its service teams on proper screening of people, ushering, liturgical worship, as well as thorough sanitising and cleaning.

“Ultimately, the health and safety of our people are our priority which will also contribute to the general safety for all the people of Sarawak,” he added.

Poh also took the opportunity to call on all religious leaders to continue praying for Sarawak and its people and encourage respective congregations as well as centres of mercy and compassion to respond in kindness and generosity in helping those in need.

“As we have just celebrated the Sarawak Day, let our unity and harmony witness who we are as people of Sarawak. May God bless, protect and deliver us from this pandemic,” he said.

Meanwhile, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has allowed houses of worship in Sarawak to reopen from today onwards subject to the latest strict health and safety protocols issued by the the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor). — DayakDaily