Officials from the Ministry of Health have continued to take various religious leaders through Standard Operating Procedures to be followed as places of worship prepare to reopen.
In March, President Museveni ordered the closure of all places of worship and other places where people converge in large numbers as one of the measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
On Thursday, religious leaders from the Christian Ecumenical Council of Uganda were trained on how to observe the various guidelines and standard operating procedures.
“These Standard Operating Procedures should be followed to the latter. Observe 2 metres apart from each congregant but above all, wear facemasks so as to avoid the spread of the virus,” Richard Okwi, the Social Behavior Change and Communication Officer in charge of Public Health emergencies in the Ministry of Health told 50 religious leaders including Bishops, priests and pastors among others.
He warned that the SOPs are not for formality but ought to be followed well if the places of worship are to remain safe.
“Social distancing should be observed even during holy communion. There should be registration of all people coming to the church and their temperature measured. If you miss out on any of these SOPs, you are giving room for the virus to move around.”
He noted that the same training has already been offered to the Inter Religious Council of Uganda and the Seventh Day Adventist churches among others.
Speaking on behalf of other religious leaders, the chairman of the Christian Ecumenical Council of Uganda, Bishop Jacinto Kibuuka said there is hope places of worship will finally be reopened after being closed for over six months.
“We know this is the new normal and we shall observe the SOPs and any other directives put in place to curb the spread of the virus. During our services, we shall dedicate some time to sensitize the congregation about the dangers and how to prevent the spread of Coronavirus,” Kibuuka said.
He noted that the 50 religious leaders will then teach fellow leaders in various parts of the country on what to do.
“This calls for more seriousness from religious leaders to ensure their congregation observes the SOPs to avoid the spread of the virus.”
President Museveni last month said the reopening will depend on the discipline of Ugandans.
“The problem is just discipline. Recently we had youth elections and eight million Ugandans took part but it was done properly,”Museveni said.
He noted that having seen the youth elections where over eight million people participated and there was no case of spread of the virus, discipline is key in fighting the virus.
The President said he was happy with religious leaders for becoming custodians of their own health by sensitizing other people in their communities against the spread of the virus.
“That is how it should be. We(national task force) shall meet on Tuesday and shall look at all those issues. We shall look at the schools, churches and the bars and see what to do,” he said.
The national Covid-19 task force has since recommended reopening of schools for candidate classes and places of worship but under strict guidelines.
The President will on Saturday evening address the country on the next course of action in regards fighting the virus.
SOPs for places of worship
. Registering details for all worshipers.
. Measuring temperature at the entrance for members of the congregation
. Washing hands with water and soap at the entrance of the places of worship
. Sitting in a distance of 2 metres from each other
. Not more than 100 people in a place of worship
. Putting on facemasks every time.
. Observing social distance during holy communion
. Place of worship should have both entry and exit points that should never be crowded
. No shaking hands during service but rather wave at each other
. Avoid sharing hymn books during service
. Night prayers should not go past the 9pm curfew time
. Sunday schools not allowed
. There should be an isolation room to be used in case of emergencies
. Toll free numbers including 0800100066 and 919 should be pinned where they are visible