Coronavirus: Germany returns to church – but no singing is permitted News | DW| Instant News

Many German churches reopened Sunday morning after most remained closed for more than a month in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Devotees must wear masks, respect social distance, and no singing is allowed amid fears of spreading the virus more easily.

Cologne Cathedral, the largest church in Europe and Germany’s most visited landmark, has planned a special ceremony for church friends. Workers, choir members, lay readers, and altar boys were invited to a ceremony attended by only 122 people in an extraordinary medieval cathedral that usually receives 20,000 visitors a day.

In addition to additional hygiene requirements, people must obey social distance regulations which require members of the congregation to sit in designated chairs that are 1.5 meters away. All physical contact is prohibited, eliminating the “kind” traditional handshake that is part of the Catholic ceremony.

To receive communion, floor marks have been placed to avoid people being too close to each other.

From Wednesday onwards, Cologne Cathedral will hold public services once again, but the number of members will remain at 122.

‘A positive sign for the faithful’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced earlier this week churches, zoos, museums and children’s playgrounds will slowly be allowed to reopen after more than a month of national restrictions.

While some remain skeptical about the possible negative impact on the infection rate of reopening the church, many prominent religious figures welcomed the move.

This is “a positive sign for the faithful that religious freedom and infection prevention can work together in harmony,” said Prelate Karl Justen of the German Catholic Church.

Jewish synagogues will also slowly reopen, with German Jewish Central Council President Josef Schuster saying “People need stability and belief in their religion, especially in the current situation.”

Mosques in Germany will hold their first public prayer on May 9. Muslims in Germany are currently fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, the time of year is usually marked by frequent mosque visits and public gatherings with friends and family.

ed / aw (AFP, dpa, KNA)

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