Coronavirus: Destiny Church 'does not fear' COVID-19, will remain open

Destiny Church is not afraid of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and will remain open amid the outbreak, outspoken Bishop Brain Tamaki has declared.

The announcement follows the confirmation of three new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, bringing the total to eight. 

Tamaki, who is married to Vision New Zealand leader and pastor Hannah Tamaki, said their churches will remain open to fulfil a need for "faith, hope and the presence of God" during a time of fear.

"I'm not about to let a filthy virus scare us out of having church. To equate fear with common sense is nonsense," the church leader said in a statement.

"Destiny Church does not fear the Coronavirus, and we will not be closing our churches."

In keeping with Ministry of Health advice, the Church will practice good hand hygiene and avoid person-to-person contact, including the reduction of hongis and physical greetings. 

Church members who are unwell are encouraged to stay at home, with elders willing to pray with people over the phone. Public services will be made available via livestream.

"At this time, with our nation facing economic repercussions and employment uncertainty due to this virus, we do not want our people to feel alone or scared. We are here for them," Tamaki said. 

The Destiny Church co-leaders are well-known for their extreme beliefs and controversial viewpoints on topics such as homosexuality and immigration, with Brian Tamaki infamously blaming the LGBTQ community for natural disasters.

On Sunday, Tamaki claimed that prayer will protect worshippers from the coronavirus.

Several major events have been cancelled or postponed due to New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak, including Auckland's Pasifika Festival, Wellington's Homegrown music festival and the Deftones and My Chemical Romance concerts.

The one-year anniversary commemoration of the Christchurch mosque shootings was also cancelled.