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ACS president Archbishop Simon Poh said that churches near the EMCO areas are strongly urged not to open due to common social circles of contact by people in those affected areas. — Borneo Post Online pic
ACS president Archbishop Simon Poh said that churches near the EMCO areas are strongly urged not to open due to common social circles of contact by people in those affected areas. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, July 24 — Churches within areas with Covid-19 cases and are placed under Enhanced movement control order (EMCO) are not allowed to open, said Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) president Archbishop Simon Poh.

He said that churches near the EMCO areas are strongly urged not to open due to common social circles of contact by people in those affected areas.

“I call on all church leaders to be prudent by monitoring and to first ensure that the cases are contained before rushing to reopen,” he said in a memo sent to all the head of churches.

In a statement yesterday (July 23), he said the memo was issued following the decision by Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) yesterday stating that non-Muslims houses of worship are allowed to open from 6am to 8pm at a 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower, under Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) effective today.

However, religious leaders must complete their vaccination two weeks before the reopening of their respective houses of worship, according to the latest standard operating procedures (SOP) released by Unifor.

Poh responded by expressing his appreciation to Unifor for the decision.

“After receiving this SOP this evening (yesterday evening), ACS heads of churches had a brief discussion in out group chat and in general ACS heads agreed to be cautious and prudent before opening our church as soon as this weekend, especially in Kuching where the infection cases have been increasing and reaching 184 according to the Friday report.

“We are also aware that this could be the Delta variant of the infection that has now been detected in Sarawak. Together with this SOP, I have sent the memo to all our head of churches,” he added.

In view of the uncertainty of the Delta Variant now detected in Sarawak, he said that this week will be used to update the SOP and conduct in-house revision and training for the admission screening, ushering, liturgical worship, SOP and sanitising service teams.

“Ultimately, the health and safety of our people are our priority which will also contribute to the general safety for all the people of Sarawak,” he added.

Meanwhile, Poh called on Sarawakians to work together for the common good in containing the current Covid-19 pandemic wave.

He added that it was important to not undo the months of sacrifices made to contain the wave as with the whole month of June placed under movement control order (MCO) placed followed by the expedition of vaccination, the infection curve is slowly being flaten on the whole.

“As Covid-19 virus infects any human person without concern for culture, race, faith or status, it is important that we as the people of Sarawak, and especially in all houses of worship, be of one mind and heart in maintaining the safety SOP, especially when our houses of worship are gathering points for our respective followers who come from different locations in a city, town or surrounding villages with each family have their own social circle of contact.

“Let us work together for the common good of all as we seek to contain the current wave. I also take this opportunity to urge religious leaders to continue to pray and encourage their respective congregations and even to be centres of mercy and compassion as we donate and procure food aid to be distributed to urban families or those in the rural villages who are in need.

“While we may be struggling ourselves, let us live simply and we can contribute any surplus that we have to help one another who are in worst situation than we are. When everyone gives a helping hand and contributes a little, we make the world a kinder place, offer hope and alleviate immediate relief for those who are suffering,” he added. — Borneo Post Online

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