This is a call made by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday night announced that places of worship would be reopened from 1 June under Level 3 of the lockdown.
However, gatherings have been limited to 50 persons, all wearing masks and practising social distancing.
SACC acting General Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana called on church leaders to tell their followers not to subject themselves to a risk of infection.
Speaking on SAFM on Wednesday, Mpumlwana said the SACC had advised churches to rather “play music, [and] don’t sing.”
“Elderly people stay at home, and I know that these (elderly people) are the ones who really love to go to church,” he said.
He said there has been suggestions that there should be special services for elderly people.
“Because in any case, people who have underlying conditions should be discouraged from going out, I think the better option should be to say ‘elderly people stay at home, and then let us find ways of ministering to them’,” he said.
Health specialists in the United States had reportedly advised that church services should exclude singing.
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth immunologist Professor Erin Bromage was quoted as saying that a person can infect others through talking, yelling or singing, as “infected respiratory droplets can increase greatly.”
Mpumlwana said there has to be new training on how to conduct church services.
“The SACC has a special delegated website for Covid-19, which is called churchinaction.org.za, and through that we are trying to guide and advise,” he said.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has also welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement and said they would proceed with caution.
“The MJC continues to consult with medical professionals on the current developments, and how best to ensure the safety of our community,” the MJC said in a statement.
“Cape Town remains the epicentre of the epidemic and will require communities to cautious.
“The MJC urges the community to cooperate with their respective masjid and to adhere to the general guidelines provided by the government.”
Meanwhile, the majority of Daily Voice readers polled on Facebook said they would not be worshipping.
Out of the estimated 3300 people polled yesterday, about 2200 said they would stay away from places of worship as the risk was too great.
The rest indicated they would be going back to church and mosque.