Some churches in Rwanda reopened doors on Sunday to religious prayers after being closed for over four months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Rwandan cabinet on Wednesday said places of worship could resume service upon approval by local authorities. Only those that meet the conditions on preventing the spread of COVID-19 are allowed to reopen.
Residents in the capital city Kigali thronged into churches in the early morning, wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing norms, washing hands with clean water, soap and hand sanitizers.
“Before entering the church, worshipers’ temperatures are measured before they are told to clean their hands and as well maintain social distance during praying. We are very strict on COVID-19 prevention measures,” Nathan Rusengo Amooti, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kigali, told reporters shortly after the first church service at St Etienne Cathedral.
Worshipers were registered at the church before starting prayers, said Amooti, adding that the church has limited the number of worshipers to enter in order to maintain social distancing.
Before and after prayers, the church will be cleaned thoroughly by using appropriate disinfectants or cleaning detergents, according to him.
“We thank the government of Rwanda for permitting us to resume public worship. We are very strict on COVID-19 prevention measures and our followers have been told to adhere to the new guidelines,” Innocent Consolateur, head priest at Kigali’s St Michael Cathedral, told reporters.
The Catholic church has installed washing facilities where worshipers will be cleaning their hands using water and alcohol-based sanitizers before entering the church.
Churchgoers who are willing to make offertories have to use digital payments, according to him.
“We thank the government of Rwanda for permiting us to gather and worship at our church. Conducting prayers from home has been very challenging because of many interruptions,” Esperance Mukamurenzi, one of churchgoers at St Michael Cathedral told Xinhua at the church.
The number of the COVID-19 cases in Rwanda has reached 1,539, including 819 recoveries and five deaths, Rwandan health ministry reported on Saturday evening.