Thursday, Jul 2, 2020
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Thoughts on reopening the churches and the economy

Dear Editor,

Churches in The Bahamas are being allowed to resume service in the sanctuary with restrictions.

I don’t know why it did not happen last Sunday which was Pentecostal Sunday. But so be it, we are still thankful.

Some churches expect to only occupy 30 percent of their space as they adhere to certain guidelines.

At first, the church office could only operate between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Later on, they could have parking lot service with a maximum of four people per car and those 65 years and older could not attend.

Now, these new opening rules.

Most churches have a membership of hundreds, maybe thousands, and have the capacity to seat hundreds of people at a time. There is the praise and worship team, the choir and the pastors, ministers and deacons.

The question remains who will be allowed to attend church? We know 65 and older and those with underlying concerns are asked not to attend. So who can attend and how will it be determined?

Will the church be using the same alphabetical system the prime minister had in place for the food stores several weeks ago?

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) has drawn together Bahamians from all sides of the divide, believers and nonbelievers, to rediscover faith, family and other core values.

Our church leaders have been mandated by God to not only lead but to take physical and mental care of the flock entrusted to them.

The spiritual and physical well being are paramount on their minds and they must endeavor not to expose their charge to any danger.

While they must adhere to COVID-19 rules, they do not need the government telling them how to run the churches.

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. But be not dismayed; the church will emerge victoriously.

It is noted that nothing is more compelling than to control the spread of COVID-19 and limiting gathering sizes is one of the most effective methods, especially in a time such as this.

The government does have a legitimate obligation to protect its citizens.

There is no getting around that.

While they must be given credit for their efforts in containing the new coronavirus pandemic, there appears to be a significant attempt to control not only the citizens’ freedom of movement but their religious freedom as well.

On another matter, more businesses are opening and more people are going back to work. But it is blatantly clear that the small, struggling guys are still being sidelined for the ones with long dollars.

Having had conversations with some of the operators of beauty salons, barber shop operators and other small business people, it was not pleasant to hear of their plight.

Their businesses have been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 order and they have to depend on national insurance to help them out with a fraction of their earnings and thank God for family and friends.

Some of them are worried that they can’t hold out to reopening day. They are not even sure they will be able to reopen. Until then they are waiting and praying. What else can they do?

COVID-19 has propelled us forward into what is now being referred to as the new normal. And for the economy to rebound swiftly and without too many hiccups, government must view all businesses equally according to their products and services.

It is too far down in the pandemic for being picky.

Now is the time to mix all that jazz, head and heart, to get the economy back on track.

Tony Pratt

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