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Churches allowed to reopen after six-month closure due to pandemic

Som Kanika / Khmer Times Share:
Sunday Mass at St Teresa of the Child Jesus Church in Banteay Meanchey province. Supplied

Churches have resumed religious services after the six-month closure and ban on group gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was lifted on Saturday.

According to a statement issued by the Health Ministry on Friday, the religious gatherings of Christians should strictly adhere to preventive health measures.

“Christian gatherings must adhere to the health guidelines, including the wearing of face masks, having temperature checks before entry, following the 1.5-metre social distancing rule, washing hands regularly as well as carrying sanitisers,” according to the announcement.

“The attendees are also limited to only 30 minutes of worship per gathering, while children and the sick are advised not to attend,” it said.

Sath Theara, member of the Khos Koal Church Committee said yesterday the resumption of church gatherings will help Christians to once again connect with “our Lord, Jesus Christ and it is wonderful news that we are once again able to warmly engage with one another.”

“Our community was delighted to hear that we can resume religious gatherings and we are extremely happy to once again begin services,” she added.

Theara also said that online worship had provided many challenges for Christians as it had been difficult to develop a close bond and build relationships with one another.

“When we practiced online worship, we seem to have lost that close connection between members of our community,” she added.

Run Mony, a regular attendee of the Christian Fellowship Church of Cambodia described the prospect of resuming religious gatherings as: “I’m full of joy to be able to come back and meet everyone in church and I’m also looking forward to being able to celebrate the resumption of our religious ceremonies.”

As the Health Ministry has also limited the attendees to gather for no longer than 30 minutes, Mony also addressed these challenges saying: “It is a bit difficult to follow these guidelines in a normal ceremony, the church leader will normally preach for about 30 minutes.” However, he added that they need to be flexible since it’s a health measure which aims to protect all of them.

“The Christian Fellowship Church of Cambodia strictly complies with these health measures and a religious gathering only amounts to a total of 20 people,” Mony said.

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