Kiev, May 22, 2020
Governments throughout the world continue to ease their coronavirus quarantine requirements, including conditions for holding Church services.
On Wednesday, May 20, Israel reopened churches, synagogues, and mosques, “which were major vectors of coronavirus infection,” reports the Times of Israel.
The decision came amidst mounting pressure from religious communities as public life gradually returned to normal, to the exclusion of religion, as the number of new cases of coronavirus infection has dropped to fewer than 30 nationwide.
There will still be restrictions on services, the Prime Minister’s office stated. “Houses of worship” will be able to operate at 50% capacity, with parishioners wearing masks and maintaining a 2m distance between themselves. Each community will also have to appoint an official responsible or ensuring that regulations are followed.
In Ukraine, on Wednesday, May 20, the Cabinet of Ministers announced the easing of its requirements after voting for the introduction of an “adaptive quarantine” beginning today, May 22. Restrictions will vary in each specific region, depending on the situation with the virus there.
According to the infographic put out by the Cabinet, under the new conditions, parishioners must maintain an area of 10m2 between themselves.
In Albania, churches in the cities of Tirana and Durrës, Albaniawill reopen on May 24, while churches elsewhere already opened on Sunday, May 17, reports the official site of the Albanian Orthodox Church.
Several churches will operate in parallel in order to facilitate the distribution of the faithful, and seats will be placed at the required distance from one another in each church.
The faithful are asked to avoid physical contact with one another and with physical objects in the church. Icons and relics are to be venerated with a bow. The elderly, sick, and children are advised to stay home and follow the services on the Church’s radio station. Every church will have hand disinfectant and persons responsible for maintaining sanitary standards.
And in New York, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic but has seen a declining number of cases recently, services with 10 people or less were allowed starting yesterday, May 21.
Those present must wear masks and practice strict social distancing.
The state will also work with an Interfaith Advisory Council to discuss proposals to safely bring back religious services.