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Coronavirus: Church and state bicker over congregation rules

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Church and state appear at odds over the enforcement of rules regarding church services during the Holy Week.

According to the latest decree, people will be able to attend church services throughout Holy Week although only 50 churchgoers will be allowed inside the church.

Those allowed to attend services inside the church must present a vaccine certificate dated back at least three weeks, while those who are unvaccinated can follow the service in the church courtyard.

Like always, masks are to be worn and social distancing to be observed.

The measures announced on Friday were met negatively by the church, with bishops saying on Saturday that they would continue with church services as planned.

Police have been instructed to be on call to handle any complaints, but it is not their responsibility to enforce the measures in churches, spokesman Christos Andreou told national broadcaster Cybc on Monday morning.

According to the decrees, church councils will be responsible for making sure measures are being followed, but reactions from several bishops over the weekend suggested that this will likely not happen.

Archbishop Chrysostomos told Cybc that even though he agrees with social distancing and masks, he “cannot understand” the 50-person limit announced by the health ministry since “not all churches are the same size”.

He also implied that churches will go on with their services as they see fit.

Health ministry spokeswoman Margarita Kyriakou refused to comment, telling the broadcaster that the 50-person limit was already in place before lockdown was announced.

Letting worshippers go to church during this period is a given, government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said, as long as they adhere to the protocols.

He added that he was saddened by the church’s stance as the archbishopric should be setting an example, not challenge the government on this matter.

 

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