Church congregations across Estonia are adopting additional safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the festive season after the government said they could remain open.
Representatives from the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Estonian Catholic Church, Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Union of Evangelical Christians and Baptists, Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate told ERR they will all be following the rules set by the government.
Masks will be mandatory, capacity restrictions will be followed and singing has either been suspended or choir sizes greatly reduced. Religious objects used to perform ceremonies will also be disinfected before and after use.
Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) has also written to the Council of Churches, urging all religious associations to follow safety rules and to be prepared for visits by the police and the Health Board, which monitor compliance with the rules.
"Last Sunday's inspection raids showed that the biggest problem in congregations is ignoring the obligation to wear masks. Therefore, I ask clergy and leaders of churches and congregations to take masks to worship with full seriousness and responsibility," the minister said.
Solman added that the constant disinfection of liturgical supplies is also very important, and clergymen could wear rubber gloves, for example, when sharing the Eucharist.
Editor: Helen Wright