New laws for religious gatherings: screening, face masks, sanitisers and time limits

Co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma outlined the 'norms and standards' for religious gatherings under level 3 of lockdown.
Co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma outlined the 'norms and standards' for religious gatherings under level 3 of lockdown.
Image: 123RF/Goran Bogicevic

Co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has outlined the “norms and standards” for religious gatherings under level 3 of lockdown.

The regulations follow President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that religious sectors would be able to operate when the country as a whole moved to level 3.

The new set of regulations was published in the Government Gazette on Thursday.

In the gazette signed off by Dlamini-Zuma, it stated that religious gatherings of not more than 50 people were allowed and religious organisations should, where possible, convene through virtual platforms.

All religious services may not exceed two hours with a 30-minute intermission between services.

The gazette said no-one should be allowed to join the gatherings without a face mask covering their nose and mouth.

Every worshipper entering a place of worship should be screened for Covid-19 symptoms and should inform leaders whether they suffer from body aches, loss of smell or loss of  taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or fatigue.

Those who presented these symptoms should not be allowed in a place of worship and if already in the place of worship, they should be isolated.

The regulations say every religious leader or person in charge of a place of worship should ensure that there is no physical contact between worshippers. Singing of hymns should be limited to solo performances or pre-recorded performances.

Where the religious activity, such as preaching or leading worship cannot be performed with face masks, the distance between people must be increased to 2.5m.

Religious leaders should ensure that all hand sanitisers should contain at least 70% alcohol content and that there should be sufficient quantities of sanitisers available. All surfaces and equipment should be cleaned before and after religious activities. There should be no sharing of equipment or objects.

No substance or liquid may be shared between worshippers and any person older than 60 and those with co-morbidities are encouraged to continue worshipping at home.

A place of worship should keep a register with full names, addresses and contact details of those in attendance. The register must be retained for at least six months.


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