Churches reopen for public worship, coronavirus regulations still followed

Churches in Estonia are generally open, though following the 2+2 rule and other coronavirus regulations.
Churches in Estonia are generally open, though following the 2+2 rule and other coronavirus regulations. Source: Social Media

Sunday saw Estonia's churches reopening to worshippers, who still had to follow the 2+2 rule as an ongoing anti-coronavirus precaution.

ERR journalist Meelis Süld noted on his social media page that a bell-ringing initiative last week helped encourage the decision to permit places of worship to reopen to the public, with head of the Lutheran church Archbishop Urmas Viilma appearing together with population affairs minister Riina Solman on Sunday's Vikerraadio broadcast "Kirikuelus" to discuss developments further.

Archbishop Viilma himself said that "Thanks to God and our people's efforts in fighting the virus, following the rules of the emergency situation, things are gradually getting better."

"Starting this Sunday, May 10, emergency restrictions on church services will be relaxed. The Sunday worship service at the [Tallinn St. Mary's] Cathedral will take place both as an online broadcast, and with open doors at 11.00 a.m." Archbishop Viilma continued on his social media page.

Sunday was also Mother's Day in Estonia.

Not all places of worship have followed suit, however.

Tallinn Synagogue is not reopening fully yet, and is still conducting religious services, certification, teaching lessons etc. remotely, via Zoom, email or over the phone, the Synagogue wrote on its social media page last week.

"Thank G-d, we are hearing good news that the fight against the virus is proceeding well in Estonia and that the risk level is decreasing. According to the government's decision, soon it will be possible to resume regular public services in the synagogue, while adhering to certain rules."

"Accordingly, we would like to inform you that while there remains a risk of getting infected and a cure against the virus is not available, the Jewish law requires us to take additional precautions. For this reason, we are not currently able to resume the synagogue's regular work," The Synagogue continued in its post.

Services for the wider public will not be available yet, and entering the Synagogue requires a special permit. The 2+2 rule will also be enforced, with the celebrations of Lag baOmer (18 Iyar, 11-12 May) and the 13th anniversary of the synagogue (28 Iyar, 21-22 May) taking place online only. A decision on what will happen with the festival of weeks (Shavuot), on 28-30 May, is to be taken later and hinges on the situation then, the Synagogue said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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