February 10, 2022
WITH COVID-19 cases on the decline, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander says he expects the Davis administration will announce a further relaxation of restrictions on churches in the days ahead.
Churches are currently limited to a one-hour worship service with a maximum seating capacity of 25 percent.
Attendance is also limited at indoor funerals with a maximum capacity of 33 percent.
The presence of bodily remains in an urn or casket is not allowed in the facility, however.
Yesterday, Bishop Fernander said given the recent drop in local infection rates, officials believe certain restrictive measures on churches can now fall away.
He also said the religious body has expressed this view to the government and is hoping to hear a response from officials later this week.
“I think you will hear something about this this week,” Bishop Fernander. “We have been in communication with the same and we’re only waiting for that response, and we believe the state is minded. I don’t want to speak for them but I believe by the end of this week if not (from) me, but from the Ministry of Health and his department. Because of the positive change, we could now move away from the 25 percent.”
Asked if the body is also petitioning for a relaxation on funeral restrictions, Bishop Fernander replied: “We are going to work through that.
“I think what we would like to see if maybe a few months, maybe two months if the number you look for are to be reduced and if it’s holding for two months, in January you will consider… removing some restrictions, I think we can honestly come to the table and negotiate that again if the rate stays the same for another two months.”
Concerns that church services could be super spreader events for COVID-19 were renewed last year after it was revealed multiple members of the Church of God either died or had to be hospitalised with COVID- 19 after attending a youth convention.
However, church officials said they did not believe the event was to blame.
Bishop Fernander said it was important for churches to return to some sort of normalcy, noting the essential role they play in everyday life.
“As you can see, churches provide an essential role in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said. “The programmes that are now being asked of the church requires more capacity to be made available and if those capacities can be made available safely not only for worship but us to do the social intervention that we do, we’re going to need churches to be those kinds of places where we could have people come in and receive what they used to receive in social assistance.”
The BCC president was also asked about the organisation’s views concerning abortion, which is currently illegal in the country.
In response, Bishop Fernander said: “I would think in The Bahamas as it relates to the right for life, we have not had the challenges of the United States but if it arises the church will be the first to be protecting life… (so) we’re not supporting abortion.”
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News date : 02/10/2022
Category : Covid-19, About Bahamians, Tribune Stories