The Government is horrified by the Leader of Opposition’s apparent lack of knowledge and his insistence on attacking the Prime Minister by politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his latest press release, the Leader of Opposition expressed “horror” over allowing Casinos to operate and Churches remain temporarily closed. It is very clear that this “horror” emanates from the Leader of Opposition’s ignorance. It is extremely horrifying to have an ignorant Opposition, especially during times like this, which requires knowledge, calmness, wisdom and leadership, and not someone who is “horror” prone.
The government said in a statement, a congregation in church is much larger that the number of people a Casino can accommodate. Secondly, a Casino has the ability to restrict customers accessing their business whereas it is quite difficult to restrict the number of church goers unless health protocols are put in place by the churches. The current orders require a maximum of 10 persons in a public place, which is easy to manage in a casino and restaurant environment.
The Government says, any business that is operating in the confines of emergency zones has to abide by the laid down rules of emergency zones. Any business including casino needs to have their staff fully vaccinated, all the clients will have to be fully vaccinated to access services including entrance into casinos. The casino owners will have to make provisions of proper infection prevention and control facilities including provision of hand sanitizers, ensuring physical distancing while inside the premises, limit the number of people in the casino including observance of 4 square meter rule, and report if their staff is tested positive for COVID-19. Such practices are difficult to implement in the mass congregations such as in church.
The statement explains, the Order does not prohibit worshipping. The Order prohibit churches from holding gathering. A person’s right to worship is not in any way restricted. Families are encouraged to pray at home together.
It states, the MHMS in the past has worked with churches to make plans for COVID-19 safe practices during congregations. It is time that churches put those plans into practice and reinforce so that we can safely open the churches for worshipping.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Honiara has now opted to hold live celebration of holy mass virtually and other Churches are encouraged to explore this option.
The government statement further adds, that the restriction is temporary whilst the relevant authorities are looking at options to enable church services to be held. It is likely that Heads of Churches may be contacted in the coming weeks to explore these options.