Malaysian Churches Reopen With 30-Pax Limit In Covid-19 Green Zones

The Council of Churches of Malaysia also bans physical contact during worship services.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Several Protestant churches have resumed worship services in Covid-19 green zones with a maximum of 30 individuals in gatherings, following rules for mosques in the Federal Territories.

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) — which counts Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches among its members — said attendance at church worship in coronavirus green zones, which do not have any Covid-19 cases, would also be subject to temperature screening, registration, wearing face masks, and safe distancing.

Like the rules for mosques and selected surau in the Federal Territories, CCM churches also set the same age limits for attendance at worship services, allowing only those aged between 15 and 70.

“No physical contact during worship: which includes no laying of hands on others, no back up singers and choirs, and no sharing of communion trays,” CCM general secretary Hermen Shastri wrote today to CCM members on CCM’s SOP (standard operating procedures).

Sunday worship services are limited to 90 minutes. Church halls are to be sanitised immediately after use, while a break of two hours is mandatory between different worship services.

“In the event of an infection, the church premise will be locked down and officials of the MOH (Ministry of Health) will take over,” said Hermen.

The Catholic Church and other churches have yet to issue a statement on reopening mass or worship services during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri reportedly said last Friday that a 30-person limit would be imposed on religious events, like Friday prayers and other congregational prayers and Terawih and Aidilfitri prayers, in mosques and selected surau in Covid-19 green zones in the Federal Territories from that day.

Bernama reported that Friday prayers and other congregational prayers in Melaka would resume from May 29 with a maximum of 40 people in a congregation. Terengganu similarly set a limit of 40 people during Friday prayers reopening this Friday at one mosque per district in the state, while prohibiting entry to those aged 60 and above.

Penang will allow maximum 15-person congregations during Friday prayers in mosques and surau this week.

Selangor, Perak, and Johor have also reportedly set a limit of 12 people in the congregation, including imam and mosque committee members, during Friday prayers starting last May 15.

Negri Sembilan has set a congregation limit of a dozen people, comprising mosque committee members, for Friday prayers in selected mosques and surau starting last May 15. Perlis similarly resumed Friday prayers at mosques state-wide, but limited the religious gatherings to members of the mosque committee at not more than 12 people.

Kelantan will not reopen Friday prayers and Terawih prayers at mosques throughout the CMCO that has been extended to June 9, allowing only mosque officers at the prayers.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) reportedly said it is discussing with the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health on guidelines for non-Muslim places of worship during the coronavirus epidemic.

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