Why the harsh measures when churches have been compliant?Wednesday, March 03, 2021
With the arrival of the novel coronavirus to the island of Jamaica, life, as we know it, has changed. Every sector of society has been affected, although there have been tighter restrictions for some.
I am very concerned with the recent press briefing and the tight restrictions which have been placed around the neck of the church. Whereas I am not taking for granted the need to remain safe and practise social distancing, I think that the move to discontinue funeral services, effectively close churches, and have worship services streamed online, is a move in the wrong direction.
There has not been any spike in cases as a result of church services. In reality, the churches have been very obedient and have observed all government stipulations. During the worship services, there are regular temperature checks, social distancing, hand-washing stations, sanitisation, and mask-wearing inside the sanctuaries. Most services have been reduced to two hours.
With churches being closed and services being streamed, what is going to happen to the membership and church attendance if or when the green light is given for a resumption? The measures used to govern church services up to this point have been very effective.
It is hard to understand why funeral services are being discontinued. The death of a loved one is a painful experience, with the recent announcement I would not want anyone to experience a death in their family. Things are very complicated and anyone who is in this position must be prepared to face two realities:
1) Your loved ones will not be allowed an opportunity to have a proper burial.
2) You must prepare for high fees and delays.
We are not certain when things will loosen up. Funeral fees are already high, and with this delay who will pay the additional cost to the funeral homes for storage? Who will cover the cost of the electricity fees that the funeral homes will pay? Will Jamaica Public Service (JPS) grant the funeral homes exemptions from light bills? Who will pay the staff for their services in the funeral homes? And, when the funeral homes are full, where will the bodies be stored? These are important questions for the Government to answer.
As citizens, we understand the need to be safe and remain socially distant. However, I think this move to force church services online and to discontinue funeral services is a double-edged sword which will affect the church community and the country.
This was not the reward that the members of the church community or funeral homes were expecting for their compliance with the orders of the State. This is a bitter pill, which has left a bad taste in the mouth of many individuals.
We would appreciate if the Government could take a serious look into its recent decision.
Nicordo E Wilson
School of Religion and Theology
Northern Caribbean University
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login