According to SOPs issued by the Ministry of Health, all places of worships are expected to accommodate not more than 200 adult persons at a time. They are also expected to enforce washing hands, wearing face masks, social distancing, record the contacts of the worshipers and measure their temperature.
There was laxity in observing the Covid-19
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in several places of worship as Christians
congregated to celebrate Easter Sunday. According to SOPs issued by the Ministry of
Health, all places of worships are expected to accommodate not more than
200 adult persons at a time.
They are also expected to enforce washing hands,
wearing face masks, social distancing, record the contacts of the worshipers and
measure their temperature. However, several Churches visited by Uganda Radio
Network-URN found it hard to fulfill the set guidelines with hundreds of
faithful turning up to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is the
first Easter since government eased the nationwide lock down occasioned by the
Covid-19 pandemic. At All Saints’ Cathedral, management found it hard
to enforce the social distance requirement of at least two meters. Inside the
Cathedral, social distancing was maintained but the story was different in the tents.
The distance between chairs reducing as more faithful arrived.
A warden identified only as Samuel told URN that
the number of worshipers was more than they had planned for. "More
people have come to pray. We are now picking chairs from the stores to
accommodate everyone. Some people are not even fitting in the tents because
there is very little space left inside," he said.
The situation at All Saints’ Cathedral was not any
different from the Church of Uganda –CoU provincial seat St. Paul’s Cathedral,
Namirembe where hundreds gathered to celebrate Easter. At the main
entrance of the Cathedral, Christians were required to line up for the
measurement of their temperature, security checking and sanitizing before
accessing the Church.
However, as this process was going on, the
other entrances to the Cathedral were unmanned leaving a gap for a big number
of people to enter the Service without going through the laid down process.
As the Service went on, several faithful were seen streaming in with the
guidance of wardens who struggled to ensure physical distancing.
At St. Paul’s Church, Mulago, Christians arrived
for Service in the company of their Children who are yet to be allowed in
places of worship. Here, children were led in prayer in a separate shelter
while adults prayed at the main Church.
The faithful were required to wear masks and
sanitize. Rev. Gregory Byamukama kept urging them to keep their masks on and be
mindful of Covid-19. Rev. Byamukama said that Christians were excited
about Easter having missed last year’s celebrations.
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At St. Andrews Church Bukoto, Christians attended
in large numbers and children as young as five years were also in attendance.
Allan Wepukhulu, the Children and teen Pastor, said that there is excitement in
the Church since last year, they were only able to hold virtual prayers.
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At Christ the King Church, there was strict enforcement
at the start of the Mass with only 200 believers allowed to pray from inside.
But when it started raining, the believers who had congregated outside the
church were allowed in. Mark Mulambuzi, an usher at the Church said there
is no shelter to accommodate believers outside the church and the only option
they had was to allow them inside the church together with their children.
However, the Christians were reminded to maintain
their masks on as the mass led by Fr. Matthias Nteza went on. Nteza during the
Easter mass asked Christians to pray for the late Archbishop of Kampala
Archdiocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga who was found dead on Saturday.
Nteza who is among the last lot of priests to be ordained by the late
Archbishop also warned Christians against reckless life during this Easter