Sunday worshippers say no to lockdown
Several Sunday churchgoers are livid that their day of worship has been designated a no-movement day.
The designation, which will run for the next six weeks, with the possibility of an extension, was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday.
Places of worship are not allowed to have more than 20 persons in attendance, based on the Disaster Risk Management Act. In the case of denominations that worship on Sundays, its members require special permission to move about on the no-movement day.
Bishop Maurice Perrier, head of Fire Anointed Healing and Deliverance Ministries in Cross Roads, St Andrew, said the measure has had an adverse effect on his church's finances.
"I pay $95, 000 for rent where I am, then you have light and water bills. The offering we would collect would help with that at times, and other bills of the church, but it has really deteriorated with these no-movement day measures," Bishop Perrier said.
He told THE WEEKEND STAR that he believes worshipping on a Sunday is very important to Jamaicans and has urged Holness to make future decisions against that backdrop.
"It really looks to me that you have a problem with the Sunday church. People mostly party on Saturdays and if it is that you are looking on, then Sunday shouldn't be considered as the day for no-movement.
"But what I notice over time is that Sunday has become a regular thing for no-movement and it doesn't look good because of all the day, Sunday, has been pressured with no-movement the most. I totally disagree with it," he said.
Bishop Prince Morris, head of Praise Worship Centre in Moneague, St Ann, is also questioning the government's decision to extend full day lockdowns on Sundays.
NOT AGAINST SATURDAY WORSHIPPERS
"It's not that I am against Saturday worshippers or anything, but look at it, we have just gone through three weeks of lockdown and now we are going to go through another three weeks," he said.
The bishop also believes that worshippers should not be subjected to the state dictating how and when they must serve God.
"What I would like the PM to do is to take the limits off the church in regards to these forms we have to fill out to go to church on Sundays. I am making the request because it is the Lord's day, and I don't think something like this should be imposed upon us where worship is concerned. I think we should be able to go to the House of God freely, and worship," he said.
Jamaica has been battling a wicked third wave of COVID-19 over the last two months. Most of the country's hospitals have exceeded their bed capacities due to a high number of persons testing positive for the virus. As of Wednesday, 726 were hospitalised. The country has recorded 1,768 deaths since the start of the pandemic, 572 of those occurring since August 1.
Morris said that while he understands the challenges that come with managing a pandemic and keeping the economy going, Holness must not forget the core principles on which the country was built.
"We have a pandemic on our hands and I understand that it will have to be handled in a way that might affect all of us. But my main contention is that we have two religious days here in Jamaica, and if you notice every time the prime minister lays down some protocols, the Sunday seems to be downplayed," he reasoned.
Patricia McGhie, who fellowships at Faith Miracle Temple Church of God in Old Harbour, St Catherine, said she still does not understand the decision to impose a lockdown on Sundays.
"It affects me and a lot of other people who only have Sundays to go and worship. So many people are fed up with what is happening; it seems as if corona only walk on Sundays because for the rest of the week we have more people on the road, especially Friday and Saturday," McGhie said. "I don't agree with the measure. If I had a choice in the matter I would put the curfew at 2 p.m."