CHURCHES this Easter holiday took heed of the Government’s Covid-19 regulations limiting gatherings to 50 people to curb the spread of the deadly pandemic.
Easter is commemorated by Christians in remembrance of Jesus Christ who sacrificed his life for the salvation of humanity.
This year, churches celebrated Easter holidays under unusual circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic which authorities are battling hard to contain.
Although Easter is the most important festival on the Christian calendar, the Government decided to maintain the limit on gatherings to avoid a third wave of infections.
Last year, the Easter holiday coincided with the announcement of the first national 21-day lockdown, which was enforced beginning March 31, preventing most people from travelling.
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, huge church gatherings characterised Easter commemorations which usually commence on Good Friday and end on Easter Monday.
Some would travel to neighbouring countries to celebrate the holidays.
However, because of the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, churches were only allowed to open under strict regulations and following World Health Organisation (WHO) health guidelines.
Only 50 people are allowed to attend a church service as per Government directive. In Harare yesterday, most churches adhered to the directive.
At the United Baptist Church (UBC), Hatfield parish, congregants were seen sanitising their hands before they entered the chapel. All the congregants had temperatures checked before joining others in the service.
Chairman of the UBC parish Mr Lloyd Musanesa said besides strictly adhering to the Covid-19 regulations in place, they were also encouraging their members to be vaccinated.
“This year we are celebrating Easter in a different way due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In previous years, we would celebrate in huge numbers but because of this pandemic, we are celebrating it under strict World Health Organisation guidelines and also our Government’s advice and regulations which include wearing of face masks, social distancing and maintaining the recommended number of 50 in our churches.
“We are following all those regulations. In the church, we strongly encourage our members to get vaccinated against the virus because it helps us all in this fight. We also give congregants information on where they can find vaccination centres.
“As a church, we always encourage congregants to be compliant and adhere to all the regulations at home. We advise them to avoid crowded places where they can easily contract the virus,” said Mr Musanesa.
At ZAOGA Church in Epworth, congregants attending the church service were putting on their face masks and also practising social distancing.
At the Celebration Church in Epworth, only 43 congregants were in attendance with all of them wearing face masks and practising social distancing.
Ushers at the gate would welcome congregants before sanitising them.
However, huge crowds of more than a hundred people from apostolic sects could be seen attending church services at shrines dotted across Harare, in complete defiance of the Covid-19 guidelines.
There were also huge crowds at Lake Chivero where people were drinking.
In their Easter Holiday message, police warned that those disregarding the Covid-19 guidelines would be punished.