Jamaica reopens churches for 14 day trial

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The Archbishop of the West Indies has welcomed the decision by the Jamaican government to remove the limit on the number of worshippers allowed inside churches due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the press on 11 May 2020, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said churches and bars may reopen for a 14-day trial period beginning 19 May 2020, under strict hygjene rules. He relaxed the 10 person limit on public worship. Churches may now gather if they conduct a temperature check on each person entering the sanctuary, have worshippers wash their hands before entering the building and once inside, engage in social distancing and wear face masks. He further asked churches not to engage in communal singing or assemble their choirs. 

Bars may reopen on 19 May 2020, but must limit themselves to five customers at a time and follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Jamaica has recorded 509 cases of COVID-19 as of 13 May 2020, with 9 deaths.

The Most Rev. Howard Gregory, Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and Archbishop of the West Indies told Radio Jamaica he welcomed the government’s decision. He did not see this as a “whole scale return to congregational worship” as older Anglicans were skeptical about attending public events while the virus was active  on the island. 

In a message posted on the diocesan Facebook page, the Diocese asked congregations to uphold the Ministry of Health guidelines and offered assistance in procuring thermometers and other necessary personal protection equipment.