HARARE - Zimbabwe’s level four COVID-19 lockdown has been extended by another two weeks.
However, churches have been given the green light to reopen for congregants who are vaccinated but some church groups say they can’t turn away those who aren’t jabbed.
Zimbabwe has been on Level 4 lockdown since June as the COVID-19 third wave ravages the country.
Schools, bars, nightclubs, and land borders remain closed but this week churches have been allowed to re-open on one condition.
Zimbabwe Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said, "churches can now allow in its congregates. Only congregates who have received two doses <of the COVID-19 vaccine> are allowed to attend and all Ministry of Health and WHO protocols and those found in breach will be arrested including the leaders of churches.'
The churches' umbrella body, the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations says although they embrace the decision they can’t chase away those not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations' Reverend Kenneth Mtata said, "if you look at the last measures, churches were complying, I think it's one of the most compliant institutions."
"You don't need to threaten churches with arrest, what you should ask is for churches to help you coordinate implementation. At church is very difficult to turn people away, to tell people, you are not vaccinated go back home."
"When people come to church the tendency of the church, the DNA of the church is to accept them. For us, that restriction goes against the self-understanding of the church."
Zimbabwe has over 120,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 4,000 deaths.
Over two million people have received their first jab, while over one million have received both doses of the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.