KUALA LUMPUR (May 21): The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) has responded to the partial opening of non-Muslim places of worship on June 10 by saying that the group has decided to continue to keep churches closed until the movement control order (MCO) is lifted, Malaysiakini reported today.

In an immediate response to this afternoon's announcement by Defence Minster Ismail Sabri Yaakob, CCM general secretary Rev Hermen Shastri (photo) said his grouping, which includes Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Syrian Christian and Presbyterian, would not resume service.

"The heads of churches of our council have decided to continue to keep churches closed until the MCO is lifted and there is an assurance from the Health Ministry that Covid-19 no longer poses a threat to the public.

"Whether that will be on June 10 will be reviewed judiciously when the time comes," said Shastri in the Malaysiakini report.

Currently, the conditional MCO has been extended until June 9.

"We seek to prioritise the safety of our people as our paramount spiritual duty. The current situation is still precarious and volatile.

"In keeping with our spiritual obligations and social responsibility, we shall continue to pray and worship at our homes, and also offer online streaming of our worship services on Sundays," he added.

He added that the CCM would like to salute the frontliners who are working tirelessly and selflessly to keep the rest of us safe.

"Stay at home. Pray at home, and let us carry one another's burden for the good of the nation," said Shastri.

According to Malaysiakini, Ismail had earlier said 174 temples, churches and gurdwaras in green zones around the country would be permitted to open to groups of not more than 30 provided that SOPs were followed.

The ruling announced by Ismail also said non-Malaysians would not be allowed to attend the services and that senior citizens, 70 years and above, and children, 12 and below, would not be allowed to attend.

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