State House has issued a press statement clarifying that President Edgar Lungu has not directed churches to open.
According to the statement the President said; “I have decided that some activities such as the following MAY CONTINUE being undertaken normally SUBJECT TO ADHERING TO PUBLIC HEALTH REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES AND CERTIFICATION: 1) Places of Worship MAY congregate while observing social distancing, mandatory face masks, hand sanitising, and hand washing…”
“This means that the President is not directing churches, rather he is giving those who still want to congregate during this period an option. Those who do not want to do so are free not to go to church,” read the statement
The statement further went on to say that it was misleading to say President Lungu had “directed” as some people are inferring because President Lungu cannot direct anyone to go to church or indeed to open the churches.
“He, in the first place, did not close any church but individual churches opted to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’ read the statement before adding that even now, churches are free to open or not to open their places of worship and that, generally, in his speech, the President was giving hope in the midst of despair due to the Coronavirus.
“The President also emphasized at the end of the Speech that he will within seven days talk to the nation regarding the decisions he is continually making as he leads the country in these trying times,” the statement concluded.
And Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya has said at today’s briefing that Government did not ban church gatherings in the first place but churches were required to adhere to public health regulations put in place such as social distancing i.e keeping a metre apart, sanitizing and watching of hands, and that Churches on their accord closed for failure to meet to the requirement.
the Minister further said that guidance from the President is that churches may meet subject to adherence to public health guidelines, Each individual must make personal decisions and that Government welcomed the decisions of those that will not meet. The preliminary requirement for meetings is to meet guidelines and regulations and invite Public health workers to get you certified