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Dr Knolly Clarke

Churches are happy that their followers can congregate again, but there will be a new normal when these houses of worship reopen next week, according to Dr Knolly Clarke, president of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced Saturday that places of worship will reopen on Friday after being closed since March to contain the COVID-19 spread.

Dr Rowley reminded people attending places of worship to keep sanitising, use alternate pews at arm’s length apart and wear masks. Rowley also said the services must be limited to one hour.

“For the last few months, the religious bodies have been live streaming church and other denomination services. Everyone’s happy to return, but now there are health protocols to follow.

“You can’t pack up the church. You have to have our sanitisation as we enter the places of worship. We have to be strict,” Clarke said.

He said religious people felt that the last few months have been “restrictive” but they understood that this has been for the good of the country.

“People adapted to a new way of worshipping. But we will not be going back to the old ways of worshipping like hugging and holding hands. Those days are gone.”