CHURCHES have been banned from holding services in schools as Government continues to put in place measures to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.
Government has said that religious organisations renting school premises have to find alternative places for their services. As a result, in Gweru, churches are now scrambling for premises to rent.
Some are now leasing beerhalls that have not been operational following the demise of Gweru City Council run Go Beer Breweries. Churches pay between US$10 and US$20 depending on the size of the space per month.
At Mkoba 9 beerhall, there are two halls that different churches use. This is the second time that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has banned religious denominations from holding services in schools.
Last year, Education Minister Cain Mathema banned the use of schools before the writing of the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council 2020 June examinations.
Recently, Government lifted the total ban on the holding of church services and allowed religious denominations to resume services on condition that they only accommodate 50 congregants while observing set Covid-19 regulations.
This has prompted the Education Ministry to issue another directive. Some churches have gone back to using nearby open spaces in and around Gweru to conduct church services.
In an interview, the Education Ministry’s director of communication and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro said churches that have been using schools have been directed to look for alternative places for their services.
“Yes, I can confirm that churches have been banned from using classrooms or school premises for conducting church services in line with measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
“The move is meant to protect pupils and teachers,” he said. Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe said many churches were now conducting their services in closed council beerhalls.
“There are many religious denominations that have no buildings, stands and churches. These have been approaching council for space to hold services,” he said.