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  • “Churches may resume within a context agreed with the faith-based community. The physical distancing rules [are] to apply within the sanctuary or worship space. We expect that a ratio of square-footage to persons will be maintained, that is, one person per 40 square feet. This will determine the number of persons that will be in the church space at any one time. That roughly approximates persons being arm-length apart,” Mr. Holness explained.
  • Mr. Holness encouraged churches to have more than one service to meet the faith-based needs for as many congregants as possible, and not assemble choirs or have peace greetings or hugging.
  • Mr. Holness said if this trial works, “we will have them as a permanent feature in the gazette Orders as the nation continues its fight against COVID-19”.

Churches will be allowed to open for in-house worship for a two-week trial period, under strict guidelines, commencing on Saturday, May 16.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, made the announcement during a digital press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, on Monday (May 11).

For weeks, churches have been unable to operate with their usual services, as the gazette Orders limit gatherings to no more than 10 persons being in one space, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Churches may resume within a context agreed with the faith-based community. The physical distancing rules [are] to apply within the sanctuary or worship space. We expect that a ratio of square-footage to persons will be maintained, that is, one person per 40 square feet. This will determine the number of persons that will be in the church space at any one time. That roughly approximates persons being arm-length apart,” Mr. Holness explained.

“Churches will be required to do temperature checks on entry. The social distancing rules would continue to apply throughout other church spaces, and within the sanctuary space of the church, and, of course, the social distancing rule is that you must be, minimum, six feet apart from everyone,” he added.

The Prime Minister also noted that the gathering rules apply outside of the sanctuary spaces of the church with no more than 10 persons and each person must be six feet apart.

Mr. Holness encouraged churches to have more than one service to meet the faith-based needs for as many congregants as possible, and not assemble choirs or have peace greetings or hugging.

Also, face masks must be worn in the church, hand sanitisation stations must be erected for congregants and air-conditioning units should be turned off with doors and windows open.

Mr. Holness said if this trial works, “we will have them as a permanent feature in the gazette Orders as the nation continues its fight against COVID-19”.

The Prime Minister also commended churches for abiding by the gazette Orders previously imposed.

“I must commend the church community for being faithful and responsible in how they have conducted themselves.

They have stuck with the various gazette Orders,” he said.

Jamaica now has 505 confirmed cases of the COVID-19.

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