Fatima Bulla-Musakwa and Wallace Ruzvidzo
CHURCHES have heeded the directive by authorities to limit gatherings to a maximum of 50 people as Christians celebrate the Easter Holiday with caution to prevent a third wave of Covid-19.
This comes as police are out in full force to curtail criminal activities through patrols and crime awareness campaigns.
The four-day Easter holiday, which ends tomorrow, is usually characterised by huge congregations such as church crusades and baptism ceremonies, but this year, such large gatherings have been banned.
The 50-people limit was as far as health authorities could advise the Government to go when the Level 4 lockdown was relaxed by President Mnangagwa at the beginning of March.
Churches have since continued conducting services online.
In an interview yesterday, Roman Catholic Priest, Father Reki Tendai Mashayamombe, said they were keeping their masses at not more than 50 people as they understood the need to protect congregants from coronavirus.
“Most masses are running from 6pm to 8pm and we are adhering to the Covid-19 regulations. People understand that Covid-19 is real so they very much understand the regulations at play. We are breaking bread as the Easter Vigil is the mother of all vigils and masses. Congregants will register to attend online and members will have communion from today up through the entire Easter Season. We have also increased masses. There are now about three or four masses hosted on Sundays including mid-week,” he said.
Union for Development of Apostolic and Zionist Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA) secretary general, Reverend Edson Tsvakai, said they were meeting in smaller groups while observing regulations including the wearing of masks and sanitising.
“We were no longer meeting for the week or fortnight long gatherings when people abstain from every form of yeast or sleeping together as husband and wife in order to experience the sacred experience. We were in Rusape where leaders of the apostolic churches met in their small numbers. It was not the usual huge gatherings that characterise the Passover commemorations and the members especially of the Zion and Apostolic sects did not take the bread and wine which represents the body of Christ because they only want to receive it from the bishops. The bishops will go around provinces conducting Passover for people in smaller groups,” he said.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary general Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata said most of their churches were conducting online services this Easter in compliance with laid down regulations.
“We had a Good Friday service but our churches had different programmes. Most of our churches were doing online services in observance of Covid-19 regulations,” he said.
National Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said officers have been deployed countrywide to ensure compliance with the law.
“The public must note that social gatherings which include weddings, churches and funerals are still limited to a maximum of 50 people. Wearing of masks is still mandatory and the curfew order remains effective from 2200 hrs to 0500 the next morning.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said on Easter Friday, seven people had died in road accidents compared to three who died during the same period last year.