In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ban on public meetings of more than 100 people, megachurches around the country have opted to cancel Easter services that would have seen more than 100 congregants gathering under one roof.
The Zion Christian Church said in a statement on Tuesday night: “We are informing you the people and the groups who come to Moria on the weekends via buses to put on hold coming to Moria until further notice.”
Speaking to eNCA‘s Zikhona Tshona, a ZCC church member earlier on Tuesday said that although she watched the president’s address on Sunday, she listened to her church leader.
“If he says we’re going to the Moria gathering, I will go. If he says ‘my children, don’t come’, I will not go. I will hear what he says,” she said in Sepedi.
Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba on Monday held a meeting with the South African Council of Churches in the province, to establish recommendations to avoid the spread of coronavirus during the easter period.
Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri announced on Monday that the church had postponed all services in South Africa until further notice.
Bushiri said in a statement: “This includes Midweek, Diplomatic, Homecells and Sunday Services. All programs tabulated on our timetable, therefore, have also been cancelled indefinitely.
“In that same line of communication, please take note that I will continue to minister to you all, via our online media platforms as well as the Prophetic Channel.
”During this time, I encourage you to take care of yourself, stay informed, stay away from public places and follow the instructions of health officials and the Centers for Disease Control.”
Rhema Bible Church leader Ray McCauley announced the cancellation of Sunday services with immediate effect on Monday.
The church said in a statement: “Following the national address by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night, the leadership of Rhema Bible Church will suspend Sunday church gathering with immediate effect in order to limit physical contact and prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. The health of our congregation is our priority.
“It is vitally important to maintain connection and community as a church during this health crisis and so we will be live-streaming our Sunday services in order that we maintain our spiritual health and not our physical health only. We will keep you informed regarding our services but in the meantime, we pray that you will join us online – we can still worship God and receive the word together via technology.”
The OR Tambo International Airport Muslim Prayer facilities will also be closed with immediate effect until further notice.
The Zulu Congregational Church has also suspended Passover services following Ramaphosa’s announcement.
The Zulu Congregational Church welcome the strong & clear steps that President Ramaphosa has taken to reduce the risk of further #Coronavirussouthafrica. Therefore the ZCC President Rt Rev M. T. Ngubane has taken a decision to suspend the 2020 Passover Services#MyZCC pic.twitter.com/WS2u1PeBvQ— The Zulu Congregational Church (@the_zcc) March 16, 2020
In his address on Sunday evening in Pretoria about Cabinet’s plans for the country in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Ramaphosa advised against local travel in taxis and buses and banned international travel to countries that have the most cases, including the EU, US, China, Iran, South Korea and other identified regions.
“We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries. We have plans to strengthen screening and testing measures at international airports,” said Ramaphosa
The president said 35 ports of entry into and out of SA would be shut down out of 72. South African citizens returning from high-risk areas would need to self-quarantine. Those from medium-risk countries would be subjected to testing.
As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa was sitting at 62, though the country has been waiting with anticipation for a genuine update.
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)
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