Bishops’ Conference temporarily suspends Corona regulations

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As of Wednesday, June 1, FPP2 masks are no longer required in Catholic churches and at church services – Bishops recommend maintaining hygiene measures – Prevention concept is mandatory for religious celebrations with more than 500 people.

The Bishops’ Conference is temporarily suspending the Corona regulations throughout Austria, effective Wednesday, June 1. On Tuesday, the Secretary-General of the Bishops’ Conference, Peter Schipka, explained this to Kathpress. Specifically, this means that entering churches and celebrating services in the area of the Catholic Church is possible without special corona-related restrictions. Notwithstanding this, the bishops recommend that various hygiene measures, as listed in the most recent framework order of the Bishops’ Conference, “be maintained as far as possible.” Moreover, for celebrations with more than 500 people, a prevention concept is obligatory.

As Schipka further explained, the suspension of the previous regulations is based on the personal responsibility of the faithful and asks them to protect themselves, for example, by vaccination or wearing masks. “Those who wear an FFP2 mask during the service for self-protection are to be treated with respect,” is expressly stated by the Bishops’ Conference.

Since the final relaxation of the Corona measures with Holy Saturday, it was only mandatory to wear an FFP2 mask when entering and leaving a Catholic church. During the service, it could be taken off at the place. On the part of the Bishops’ Conference, as of June 1, it is now “recommended that hygiene measures (e.g., disinfecting hands) be maintained as much as possible.” These include, for example, providing disinfectant and airing churches after services.

Prevention concept for over 500 people

A prevention concept must be presented and implemented for religious celebrations or services with more than 500 people for a single occasion – this includes baptisms, confirmations, first communions, and weddings. Explicitly excluded from this regulation are funerals or church service celebrations in the context of funerals. Compliance with the prevention concept is to be ensured by a prevention officer to be appointed.

The Bishops’ Conference recommends, among other things, that for such religious celebrations with more than 500 people, the hygiene measures listed in the previously valid framework regulations be observed, that attention be paid to an orderly “control of the flow of people”, that a welcome or steward service be set up, that disinfectant dispensers be set up at the entrance, that surfaces or objects be disinfected regularly, and that the church room be routinely ventilated.

All information and details on the prevention concept are available on the Austrian Bishops’ Conference website at www.bischofskonferenz.at/behelfe/corona-rahmenordnung-und-praeventionskonzept.

Since the pandemic’s beginning, Corona protection measures for public religious services in Austria have been established through agreements between the state and the legally recognized churches and religious societies. After the last Corona agreement with the Ministry of Culture expired at the end of June 2021, the churches and religious communities agreed to “continue to take precautionary measures to protect the faithful at their discretion.” The Bishops’ Conference then adopted a framework order effective July 1 last year, which has been amended several times. The regulations, now temporarily suspended as of Wednesday, have been in effect since April 16.

Source: kathpress (31.05.2022)/picture: pixabay.com

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