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Liberia reopens religious houses

-Permits 25% regular worship-hour occupancy

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President George Manneh Weah has proposed that Churches, Mosques and worship centers consider the commencement of their operations beginning Sunday, 17 May, with 25 percent of the regular worship-hour occupancy for each service.
While extending by two more weeks Friday, 8 May, the measures intended to curtail coronavirus spread here, President Weah proposed 25 percent of the regular worship-hour occupancy for each service at religious centers to allow for social distancing and other protocols such including use of face coverings and hand-washing, among others.

As at 7 May, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) reported that Liberia had recorded 20 deaths out of 199 confirmed cases after 79 had recovered, leaving 100 active confirmed cases.At the start of the crisis, Churches were abruptly closed by security forces while worshipers were in service due to authorities’ apparent conflicting decision following a meeting with religious leaders ahead of the Sunday leading to the incident.

The Executive Mansion says President Weah is renewing the order for people to stay at home and observe the protocols that were originally instituted on 10 April by an additional two weeks.

The reopening of Churches, Mosques and worship centers follows calls from religious leaders amid complaints by others here that the Church and Mosque have been treated unfairly in the crisis, as they have not been allowed to congregate and pray against the disease.

President Weah says Muslims can begin operating in their Mosques on the Friday before 17 May, but urges that they observe similar 25 percent of their normal occupancy and the observance of health regulations.According to the Executive Mansion, the security forces will be required to monitor these guidelines to make sure there is no violation.

The Government of Liberia also calls on Liberians, led by religious leaders, to use the upcoming Unification Day celebration to pray for the Country to be healed from the virus. Health authorities have advised that in the wake of the unresolved crisis, the need for the measures to remain in place still is pertinent, the release adds.

Because of the government’s decision to provide food aid during the period, the Executive Mansion details that corridors will be opened to enable food products to move from one county to the next, while observing social distancing, face covering and other measures.

Last month President Weah announced a State of Emergency to be observed throughout the Country. During this period, the joint security command and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia were ordered to enforce the different protocols that were pronounced.

Among the measures were orders to quarantine the 15 counties here; ensure that everyone in those counties stay at home for two weeks – with exceptions granted to designated essential persons and businesses; and require all to be indoors by 3 pm. Further, the measures included a directive to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to engage market leaders in order to make “satisfactory arrangements” for the operations of markets during the period.–Press release

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