Τhe health ministry on Friday recommended church goers bow in front of icons instead of kissing them and the hand of the priest to avoid Covid-19 infection, as well as offering the bread at the end of services in individual plastic bags.
In an announcement issued a day before the official reopening of churches on Saturday, the ministry listed the regulations that must be followed inside and outside the church.
High temperatures are not enough to eliminate the virus, the ministry said, and that citizens’ behaviour plays an important role to prevent infection.
“The course of the epidemic in our country will depend on our compliance with the hygiene rules and the daily social distancing,” it said.
According to the announcement, one person will be allowed inside the church per eight square metres, while those inside must stand two metres apart.
People will be able to stand in the church yard to listen to the liturgy on outside speakers which will operate in accordance with the noise emission limits.
The ministry recommended people avoid kissing, hugging, or shaking hands with other church goers.
The sharing of bread at the end of the service should take place outside respecting social distancing.
Instructions will be given to all church officials to first to wash their hands, use antiseptic and disposable gloves, and then place the holy bread in transparent individual bags.
People who belong to vulnerable groups are recommended to stay at home or attend less busy services during weekdays.
There must be two stations with anti-bacterial gel and surfaces, including the icons, must be disinfected frequently during services, the announcement said.
Churches must also be aired frequently, and natural ventilation should be combined with the use of air-conditioning or fans.
The ministry instructed the assignment of a space in the church to isolate suspect Covid-19 cases. The room should have proper ventilation and the relevant protective equipment.
The use of the internet and social media is advised, as well as posting videotaped speeches, sermons and teleconferencing services or bible studies.
The strict observance of the measures will allow the safe attendance at church, the ministry said.