Services open to the public again from February 7

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Vienna, 02.02.2021 – From Sunday, February 7, publicly accessible religious services are possible again under increased protective measures. The churches and religious societies have agreed on Tuesday in a new agreement with Minister of Culture Susanne Raab. In addition to the existing protective measures, such as the provision of sufficient disinfectants and the suspension of congregational and choir singing, a minimum distance of 2 meters must be maintained, and there is an obligation to wear an FFP2 mask.

In addition, according to the agreement to contain the virus, the churches and religious societies are relying as before on the use of online services, the shorter duration of church services and limited seating.

In recent days, the Catholic bishops had discussed the key points of the agreement. This was confirmed by the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference, Peter Schipka, in an interview with Kathpress. Based on the new agreement, the bishops’ conference is now working on a framework order that will lay down the details for the celebration of services in the Catholic Church area starting Feb. 7, including the rules for the beginning of Lent, including the celebration of the Ash Wednesday liturgy. The new framework should be ready by Thursday evening, Schipka announced.

In a dispatch Tuesday, Culture Minister Susanne Raab thanked the churches and religious communities as well as all believers “for their perseverance during the lockdown.” She said they had “made an important contribution to lowering the infection figures.” Raab said she was aware “that faith is an important support for many people in our country, especially in difficult times,” and she was therefore glad that public worship services are now possible again. With the new protective measures, the churches and religious communities would at the same time ensure “that the corona virus does not continue to spread.”

Accordingly, no services open to the public will take place until Saturday, February 6, which the Catholic Church suspended on its own initiative for the duration of the strict lockdown. Still possible are – according to the “Framework Regulations of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for the Celebration of Divine Services” in its current version – non-publicly accessible services with a maximum of 10 persons, who must be registered by name in advance, so that in this way Holy Mass can be celebrated on behalf of the congregation. – Already only with FFP2 mask and 2 meters distance.

In addition, the churches are open for personal prayer, where the minimum distance of 2 meters must be maintained and an FFP2 mask must be worn.

  • source: kathpress.at/picture: pixabay.com
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