On Monday, July 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered gradual resumption of congregational worship after over three months of closure due to coronavirus fears.
The directive, the head of state said, will take effect in the next three weeks under strict guidelines to curb the spread of the virus that has so far claimed 164 lives in the country.
This writer has learnt that the government intends to reopen places of worship in four phases.
In the first phase that the president talked about, the ministry of health requires clerics to limit the congregational services to a maximum of 100 people per session.
Only non-vulnerable members between the age of 14 and 58 will be allowed to attend the worship services that shall be limited to 1 hour per session with little singing.
In phase two, the ministry of health will allow 25 per cent occupancy in places of worship. Phase three 50 per cent and phase four 100 per cent.
According to a circular from the Kenya Catholic Secretariat addressed to all bishops, in phase two the churches will be allowed to resume individual special masses for vulnerable groups with generous spacing, as per the ministry of health guidelines.
In phase three, liturgical singing will be allowed, masses will accommodate some vulnerable groups and funerals shall have no capping.
In phase four, Sunday masses will have 100 per cent occupancy with some members in the vulnerable groups allowed to attend the services.
Only a maximum of 100 people will be allowed to attend weddings and other religious ceremonies in the initial stages.
In the guidelines to clerics, the catholic church, citing the ministry of health guidelines, directed the leaders to allow up to 200 people attend religious funerals in the first phase.
During the functions, the leaders have been directed to ensure minimum movement and limit the number of of those going to the graveside to only close members of the family and ministers. Eating at funerals has been discouraged.
Before resuming services, churches and mosques will be required to provide sanitizers or handwashing facilities at the entrance, use thermal guns to check temperatures and maintain high level of hygiene in the worship places.
They will also be required to sanitize pews and chairs after every worship session and ensure physical distance of 1.5 metres at all times.
Ministers have been directed to wear face masks at all times.
For Catholics, priests and other ministers will be required to wear face masks and gloves throughout the celebration of sacrament as well as use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving rooms of the sick.
The ministry of health directed churches to appoint committees as part of efforts to help in the implementation of the guidelines.