NEWS

Worship House Re-Open Rules

A fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years under the Public Health Act is in place for those who fail to comply.
01 Oct 2021 12:03
Worship House Re-Open Rules
Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Dr James Fong.

As houses of worship prepare to open their doors on October 4, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is discussing a number of COVID-safe measures and protocols to be strictly followed by religious organisations.

In a discussion paper set by the ministry for religious organisations, it has set out measures to be discussed and strictly observed by religious organisations when they reopen.

Ministry of Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong said while these protocols were still being discussed, the legal implication was standard for businesses, workplaces and houses of worship if they did not abide by the protocols in place.

The Ministry of Health has reiterated that a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years under the Public Health Act is in place for failure to comply with mandatory COVID-safe protocols set out by the ministry for the reopening of places of worship.

On September 16, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, in a nationwide announcement, said that from October 4, tertiary institutions, houses of worship, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, gyms, pools, and tattoo parlours could open at 70 per cent capacity to only fully vaccinated persons.

Mr Bainimarama said these relaxations were not for anyone to tread carelessly.

The Health Ministry has stated that COVID- safe protocols and measures were designed to ensure minimal risk of transmission when conducting religious activities.

 

Response from religious groups.

Methodist Church:

Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma general secretary Reverend Iliesa Naivalu said the church leaders have received the copies of the protocols by the Ministry of Health and the church would ensure this is followed through.

“We will only go with the guidelines the Government has set out and the Ministry of Health has always been open to discussions and we welcome that,” he said.

“We have also welcomed the news for children who have not been vaccinated to sit in churches with their family bubble.

“We have circulated the paper to all 59 division heads and we have urged them to follow it closely because there are legal implications that we are binded to follow if we do not follow it closely.”

 

World Harvest Centre:

While responding to queries on the reopening of places of worship, World Harvest Centre Associate Pastor Kolinio Boila said as law abiding citizens church members were requested to work within the law.

“We also aware it is a temporary arrangement, and restrictions will be lifted in stages. So we have to learn to be flexible and adjust accordingly,” Pastor Boila said.

“We are excited about the opportunity to have church services again after seven months of not being able to do so. We will work within the 70 per cent, we are glad it is better than the 50 per cent when restrictions were uplifted last year.

 

Fiji Muslim League:

Fiji Muslim League president Hafizud Khan said they were yet to receive an amended copy of the protocols from the ministry and they hoped to receive it soon before the reopening of their places of worship next week.

President of the Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji Sarju Prasad has also confirmed that they had not received any protocols yet from the ministry.

Feedbackinoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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