Greek Church Wants Easter Openings During COVID-19 Pandemic

Αssociated Press

A limited congregation attend the service for the feast of the Epiphany in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Piraeus, the port of Athens, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - As Greece’s New Democracy government hasn’t decided whether to allow regional travel for Holy Week and the period leading up to Easter on May 2 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church of Greece wants to open.

Church officials, said Kathimerini, have proposed a plan to allow more people inside as well as out with no report on how the numbers could be controlled as a pseudo-lockdown has already been eased for non-essential businesses.

Senior church officials reportedly said that long-range forecasts of good weather for Easter, later than usual this year, would make it safer for people to attend services after mostly being locked out in 2020.

The Holy Synod (DIS) sent a letter to the Education Ministry with the scheme and said health protocols would be followed, and that the maximum number of people inside large churches be 100 and a ratio of one worshipper per 15 square meters of indoor space, the paper said.

That is different from current rules that allow one person per 20 square meters in an enclosed space such as supermarkets and would allow for more crowding in the churches.

The Synod has justified its proposal for one person per 15 sq.m. saying that the high church ceilings and the good weather during Easter will allow for good ventilation even if people are next to each other.