Catholics Bishops under the banner Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) have accused President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s administration for imposing a ‘Partial’ lockdown on Malawians without consulting the bishops.
In a statement the Catholic Bishops said the new guidelines known as Public Health (Coronavirus and Covid-19) Prevention, Containment and Management Rules have taken the bishops by surprised since they were not consulted.
“They have taken us by surprise…We were neither informed nor consulted despite being on forefront lobbying Covid-19 compliant behavior,” reads the statement in part.
The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Spokesperson, Bishop Gilford Matonga has also expressed shock with newly gazzeted regulations.
Bishop Matonga said gathering restrictions on churches is an indirect closure of the institutions that joined President Lazarus Chakwera in prayer and fasting against the pandemic.
Public Health (Corona virus and Covid-19) Prevention, Containment and Management Rules, 2020 affects religious gatherings, weddings and traditional engagements and contravention of the law will attract a fine of MK100, 000 and a three month prison term
Attorney General, Dr Chikosa Silungwe said the rules which came into effect on August 8, 2020 are there to convert measures into legal framework assisting in the fight against the Corona virus.
“The law will empower designated people including police officers, traditional authorities and health officers to enforce the rules such as social distancing hand washing and mandatory mask wearing in public,” said Silungwe.
He added that only essential services such as health and medical services, banking, legal, water and disaster management are exempted from some of the strict measures.
“Hospitality and recreational facilities such as bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate only within a certain set period of time and only offer takeaway services. Hospitality services will only be allowed to offer room service,” he stated.
As of August 8, the country has recorded 4,624 cases including 143 deaths bringing the case fatality rate to 3.1 percent.