Anglican Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, says COVID-19 regulations and protocols must be followed by churches to save lives.

The church moved its annual midnight mass held every Christmas Eve at the St George’s Cathedral to 5pm today. Makgoba says this is in line with lockdown restrictions,  including the 11 PM to 4 AM curfew.

“The service at the Cathedral this evening will be at 5 PM. It is the first time at least in my 30 years that we have had to shift the service,- but we have to comply with the COVID-19  regulations and restrictions. We have to save lives, we have to encourage social distancing, we have to wash our hands regularly and we have to wear masks. It’s going to be an interesting and unique one. Blessings and Merry Christmas to you all.”

In the Nelson Mandela Bay region, Christmas church service will be done using the latest technology due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 which has killed so many South Africans. SABC reporter Zolani Moya is at Fathers’ House in Port Elizabeth.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the  National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has identified large gatherings as the leading cause of the spread of the virus.

“There are probably many reasons for this massive spike in infections, but some key contributors are now becoming clearer.  Gatherings – especially social gatherings and parties – are the largest source of outbreaks. In many of these gatherings, social distancing is not being observed, venues are crowded and not adequately ventilated, hand sanitiser is not readily available, and people are not wearing masks,” Ramaphosa said.

He asked citizens to keep the festive season celebrations small. Church gatherings have been restricted to 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors.

President Ramaphosa addresses the nation: