Religious gatherings under Level 3 Dlamini-Zuma

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‘Religious counselling’ during Level 3: Here’s what you need to know

Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that religious gatherings and counselling is considered an essential service from Level 3.

Religious gatherings under Level 3 Dlamini-Zuma

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Thursday 28 May, confirmed that religious gatherings would be permitted under Level 3 of lockdown starting on 1 June. Dlamini-Zuma also said “religious counselling” is an essential service.

Dlamini-Zuma made the announcement at the National coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting on Thursday.


Here are the points Dlamini-Zuma made about religious gatherings under Level 3:

  • The government is in a position to categorise religious counselling as an essential service;
  • This will enable the millions who have been affected by the virus, to receive this much-needed service, since the majority cannot afford professional attention of this nature;
  • The government will also permit religious gatherings such as church services as of June 1, so long as health, hygiene and social distancing is observed;
  • We must maintain 1.5metres between the maximum of 50 congregants, should the chosen venue be able to accommodate such;
  • We must all be wearing masks when we attend our places of worship, and the washing of hands or sanitisation should be undertaken prior to worship; and
  • Our places of worship must be sanitised, and the screening of participants is mandatory.

Besides covering the regulations on religious gatherings, Dlamini-Zuma, also encouraged the nation to join in on a National Day of Prayer with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday 31 May.

“This is a time when we should all join in meditation, fellowship and prayer. Consequently, we will have a National Day of Prayer, on Sunday, as announced by the President. This day must be observed in the comfort of your homes or through virtual means,” said Dlamini-Zuma.


Ramaphosa, on Tuesday 26 May, said that religious gatherings would be permitted under Level 3 of the lockdown set to commence on 1 June. Despite the good news, it did with come with strict conditions. 

Ramaphosa said places of worship may resume activity but there is a limit of only 50 people. 

“We understand the great impact that the closure of places of worship have had on members of the faith community, and that this has worsened the distress of communities who are unable to worship in congregation,” he said.

The decision came after consultation with religious leaders taking into consideration their recommendations. 

“After consideration following consultation with our religious leaders, we have therefore determined that as part of the regulations for alert level 3, the current restrictions on congregational worship will be eased in a carefully measured way,” he added. 

While some praised Ramaphosa for the decision and easing of restrictions, others claimed that it was unacceptable. 


Bishop Bheki Ngcobo has opposed the limit of people at religious gatherings in churches under Level 3 lockdown. Ngcobo previously made headlines for pledging to defy lockdown regulations by gathering thousands of his supporters for an Easter pilgrimage. 

Speaking to Bongani Bingwa on 702 on Wednesday 27 May, Ngcobo said he welcomed Ramaphosa’s decision but was not altogether sold. Ngcobo said the limit of 50 people was too low and that he felt the damage had already been done by not opening places of worship sooner. 

“Yes, 50 is too low but it’s better than nothing,” he said. 

Ngcobo argued that it would be difficult for churches that have around 1 000 congregants.  

“If you want to break down that number of 1 000, how can you do it with one premises? A person that is responsible for this 1 000, it will be very hard,” added Ngcobo.

Ngcobo also said churches should be compensated for the time they were out of service under Level 4 and 5 of lockdown.