Easter in Eastern Austria: Public religious services remain possible

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Due to the sharp rise in the number of infections in the three eastern provinces, the government, together with the provincial governors, has agreed to tighten the Corona prevention measures for the Holy Week and Easter for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. The bishops of the dioceses of Eisenstadt, St. Pölten and Vienna then decreed on Wednesday, in view of Holy Week and the beginning of the Easter season, that public religious services may only be celebrated under the strictest and most carefully perceived preventive measures. This was preceded by consultations with political leaders during Wednesday.

Parish leaders are urged to keep liturgies as short as possible. Where possible and appropriate, services should be celebrated outdoors. It is especially important that the faithful be asked at the end of each service not to remain standing together outside the church.

During the entire service, the two-meter minimum distance must be observed for people who do not live in the same household. Furthermore, an FFP2 mask must be worn at all times. This applies to both indoor and outdoor services. The mask obligation applies during the entire service. Pregnant women and children up to the age of 6 are exempt; children from 6 to 14 can continue to wear a mouth-nose protection instead of the FFP2 mask.

A welcome service shall be provided in churches to ensure that the minimum distance is maintained. Congregational and choral singing is not allowed; singing by a maximum of four soloists remains permitted. Persons with symptoms are not allowed to join the services in the churches. Rites with an increased risk of transmission, such as the washing of feet on Holy Thursday, must be avoided. Those who are not sure of their state of health should refrain from attending church and use the many church service broadcasts on television, radio or via livestream to join in the celebration in a virtual way. For example, ORF and Radio klassik Stephansdom offer broadcasts of the services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Michael Prüller, press spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna: “Under these conditions, as our consultations have shown, the risk of transmission is manageable and celebrating together in church is justifiable. We are very pleased about this. Our sense of responsibility in implementing the measures must be correspondingly great. Everyone must think and participate; for example, by also celebrating smaller liturgies such as devotions to the Mount of Olives or the Stations of the Cross in view of heavily attended church services.”

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