By John Isaac
THOUGH there has been a decline in the number of Covid-19 cases over the last few weeks, Anglican churches in Sarawak and Brunei have decided to remain closed till the conditional movement control order (CMCO) is lifted.
“We will not be opening for doors for worship just yet … it is clear that the country was not out of the woods yet,” said Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei, Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute.
“In other words, the standard operating procedure (SOP) pertaining to us is quite irrelevant as we will not reopen our churches for worship during the CMCO period,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.
According to Bernama, the Ministry of National Unity (KPN) Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said the SOP regarding the opening of houses of worship of non-Muslims during the CMCO period will be finalised by today.
KPN added that another follow-up meeting with various religious groups was scheduled for today and the list of houses of worship in the green zones that will be allowed to reopen and the related SOPs will be submitted to the KPN tomorrow.
As such, Danald thought that the government must not go for any populist approach. If it is still unsafe to meet and gather in big groups, it is the responsibility of the government to make sure that it does not happen.
“Together, we have sacrificed much and achieved much thus far. We must not fail ourselves just outside the point of success,” he said.
Hence, he said that worship would continue online at various times and in different languages.
“It is our corporate prayer that we will soon see the last of this terrible virus. Let us take courage and stand together against it,” he said.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh in a statement on Friday said when churches reopen, churchgoers must get used to adhering to the new norms when going to church gatherings.
He said the new norms includes practicing social distancing with one-metre gaps between people, and other safety precautions much be adhered to.
“The seating capacity will also be reduced and the frequency of services many need to be increased to the number of worshippers,” he said.
He said the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions were encouraged to continue to follow online worship services in the safety of their homes.
“Parents too are advised not to bring their young children to church as they would be difficult to control,” he said.
Archbishop Poh also urged Christians to be understanding and patient when gathering in church amid the current situation in order to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19.