Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has expressed disappointment over the manner the new restrictions to limit the alarming spread of coronavirus, three months after a court blocked the government from imposing a full lockdown, were announced, saying they were not consulted.
Malawi closed down bars and churches on Sunday and Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe unveiled newly-gazetted measures to curb the spread of the contagions that included the mandatory wearing of face masks.
Bars will only be allowed to sell alcohol as take-out and no groups of more than 10 people are allowed except for funerals with a maximum of 50 people.
The Attorney General said an "army of enforcement officers" had been hired to ensure the regulations were followed.
But in a statement issued on Sunday, the Catholic bishops however, urged their members to strictly adhre to the health and pastoral guidelines to prevent Covid-19 spread including regular handwashing, social distancing and using face masks.
Reads the statement in part: " We believe we still have a role to play in this regard. However, since we are law abiding, we the Ctaholic Bishops instruct all the clergy, the religious and laity to suspend forthwith all public church gathering until further notice.
"In the meantime, we shall engage government to see our true role in preventing the further spread of Covid-19."
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that "it's unfortunate" that the Tonse Alliance led government seems to continue from where the former president Peter Mutharika stopped.
"Lack of consultations with key stakeholders in the ubluc policy making process such as the afith community seesm to continue being a problem for those who ascend to the Presidency in Malawi," he said,
Munthali added: "There was no way such umbrella mother bodies would be ignored in the consultatation process - that is if there were any."
He said Tonse government makes sure that it takes on board all key stakeholders before it makes any critical decisions not only on Covid-19.
"These are basic public policy making dos and don'ts," he pointed out.
According to Information Minister, Gospel Kazako, the numbers of Covid-19 cases "are rising at an alarming rate."
Experts had sounded the alarm about the virus pandemic as far back as May while the country focused on election campaigns that attracted ten of thousands of rallies in the absence of a lockdown.
Malawi has nearly doubled the number of confirmed virus cases over the past four weeks with the toll standing at 4,624 and the death toll standing at 143 as of Saturday.
The country had not been placed under lockdown after a court in April blocked the government from enforcing a full lockdown in Malawi for failure to announce any measures to support the vulnerable.