Covid-19: Anglican churches in Sarawak to remain closed, says Bishop

Rt Rev Datuk Danald Jute, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei. — Borneo Post Online pic
Rt Rev Datuk Danald Jute, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, July 24 — Anglican churches and chapels in Sarawak will remain closed despite being allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity, said Bishop of Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei Rt Rev Datuk Danald Jute.

He said that regrettably, they had to be cautious and maintain their current Diocesan position of remaining closed until further notice.

“Regrettably, we will need to be cautious and maintain our current Diocesan position, that is our churches and chapels shall remain closed until further notice,” he said today.

He added the Anglican Diocese of Kuching’s decision on this matter had been expressed in a Letter to the Faithful which had been shared on social media including Facebook.

Danald said that the Diocese was aware that this decision may not be what some people were expecting, as many of them were missing the feeling of being in a physical church service.

“We wish to assure you that our decision arrived out of our love and care for you. The number of new Covid-19 infections is now at its highest figures nationally and in the state.

“What is more alarming is the spike in number of cases involving the more aggressive and infectious Delta variant. Let us continue to do our part to curb the further spread of the virus,” he said.

He also advised members of the church to continue to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) against Covid-19 including the wearing of face mask even if they have already been vaccinated.

He hoped that they too will work to care for one another especially the poor and the needy since many families are adversely impacted by this pandemic.

“Do continue to join the Online Worship Services being screened from several of our parishes,” he said.

Yesterday, Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) announced that non-Muslim houses of worship could open from 6am to 8pm at 50 per cent capacity under Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) effective today.

According to the SOPs released by Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), religious leaders must complete their vaccination two weeks before the reopening of their respective houses of worship while members of congregation who have not been vaccinated will continue to be prohibited from entering their houses of worship.

It also stated that secretariats will also be allowed to open from 8am to 5pm with only 50 per cent of workforce permitted.

The SOP also stated only a maximum of 25 individuals will be allowed per wedding ceremony to be conducted at the respective houses of worship and only a maximum of 12 individuals are to be allowed per administrative meeting.

Despite so, other activities such as seminars, courses and cultural activities will continue to be prohibited.

Individuals who will be visiting their respective houses of worships are reminded to strictly adhere to the SOP including signing their attendance through MySejahtera and screening of body temperature.

They must also wear face masks and sanitise their hands, and those whose body temperature exceeds 37.5 °C must be denied entry.

Those showing signs and symptoms of Covid-19 such as cough, sore throat and breathing difficulties must not be allowed entry.

Senior citizens and individuals who are suffering from chronic diseases are encouraged not to visit any houses of worship while children aged 12 and below are strictly prohibited.

Individuals who will be allowed inside the houses of worship must avoid close contacts such as handshakes.

They must leave the houses of worship immediately after they are done with their business.

All the committees of the various houses of worship must ensure that all individuals maintain physical distancing of one metre and strictly comply with the SOP set by the authorities. — Borneo Post Online

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