Coronavirus: Churches and religions tighten measures

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In consultation with the Ministry of Culture, the churches and religious communities are tightening their coronavirus protection measures for public worship services, which are still possible. The use of online services, the shorter duration of church services and the cordoning off of every second pew are mentioned.

The most important change is that from Tuesday onwards a minimum distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained during church services. As before, a mouth and nose protector must be worn. The agreement was concluded on Sunday and comes into force, as do the restrictions announced by the government for the second lockdown, with effect from November 3, 0.00 hours.

The concretization of the new measures for the Catholic Church is already in progress and should be completed as soon as possible. This was declared by the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Franz Lackner, in an interview with Kathpress on Sunday.

The new agreement between the church and the federal government continues to enable people “to exercise their fundamental right to religious freedom in a responsible manner, even in view of the worrying Corona situation,” the Archbishop of Salzburg emphasized, saying

“The faith we live together should enable us to stand by those who are particularly affected by the pandemic and its effects. In these days, Christian charity must prove itself in the considerate protection of fellow human beings and in attentive help for those in need”.

Commitment to public services
The Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, Susanne Raab, also emphasized the basic right to religious freedom in a broadcast and said: “It is important that the practice of religion together in the form of public services will continue to be possible, because they also provide a great deal of support for believers in these challenging times.

The churches and religious communities are doing everything to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further and are therefore taking further measures”. As the Minister emphasized, cooperation with the churches and religious communities in the Corona crisis has so far been “very positive and cooperative”. “The joint agreements have proved their worth, for which I would like to express my sincere thanks”, said Raab.

Services without singing
The new minimum distance of 1.5 meters between persons with whom one does not live in the same household may be implemented, “if this requires the performance of religious acts – here too a mouth nose protector is to be worn”, says the agreement, which contains two additional tightenings: For example, congregational and choral singing will be suspended until further notice.

“Religious celebrations that can be postponed are also postponed,” it continues, and marriage ceremonies are mentioned as an example. As before, disinfectant must be provided in sufficient quantities during church services.

Shorter church services and online services
“In addition, the churches and religious communities will take further measures to contain the virus,” the agreement states. Examples cited are the use of online means, shorter duration of church services and the cordoning off of every second pew.

Due to the new agreement, the framework regulations of the Bishops’ Conference, which apply throughout Austria, must also be changed. It has already been adapted several times in recent weeks. Up to now, a minimum distance of one meter and the wearing of a mouth and nose protector has applied for indoor church services.

There are detailed rules, for example, for receiving communion and for restrictions on singing. In the case of celebrations for one-time occasions such as baptism, first communion and confirmation, special prevention concepts must be drawn up. In addition, the bishops have decreed that this year there will be no communal cemetery celebrations and grave blessings on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Source: religion.ORF.at. Picture: pixabay.com

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