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Society

COVID-19 Winding Down, Greek Churches Open, Bells Ring

ATHENS – Shut down for nearly two months as part of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Greek churches opened their doors again May 17 and the sound of bells and loudspeakers broadcasting services were heard.

The Greek Church had initially resisted shutting and wanted to keep performing Holy Communion before a persuasion campaign from Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis convinced leaders it wasn't safe.

That closed the churches for the traditional Easter services that is the most solemn period of the year for the faithful in Greece as people were required to stay at home for the most part. The lockdown began gradually being lifted on May 4.

Being cautious still, however, churches limited how many people could be inside and kept them apart under social distancing rules people should be at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) away to help prevent any resurgence of the virus.

While the churches were disinfected outside, people taking Communion did so from the same spoon after warning when the disease was raging that the practice was exceedingly dangerous.

People who went to church were seated three chairs apart and observed social distancing while the number of people attending was limited to one per 10 square meters (108 square feet.)

Many were left outside, but avoided crowding, and churches used loudspeakers to broadcast Mass. Some performed Mass two or three times to accommodate the number of people who showed up.

Greece is gradually easing strict quarantine measures that were imposed in March and have helped limit fatalities from COVID-19 to 162 and confirmed cases to under 3,000. Starting May 18, residents will be able to travel freely in the mainland and on the island of Crete and bars, cafes and restaurants will reopen on March 25.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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