Coronavirus: France allows religious ceremonies to resume
The Interior Ministry announced that public worship would be allowed but those attending would have to wash their hands before entering, wear a face mask and keep two metres apart at all times.
France is allowing religious ceremonies and gatherings to resume for the first time since its lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic started two months ago, according to a legislative decree published on Saturday. But worshippers are required to adhere to a set of guidelines.
The Interior Ministry announced on Friday that public worship would be allowed but those attending would have to wash their hands before entering, wear a face mask and keep two metres apart at all times.
The French Council for the Muslim Faith announced on Friday that Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations would occur on Sunday, May 24, but that “given the pandemic, Eid prayer cannot be held in mosques”.
So far, COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the novel coronavirus -- has killed more than 28,000 people and infected 182, 015, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Muslims -- who make up around 9% of France's population, according to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center -- are this weekend celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr.
The move has been welcomed by the Bishop’s Conference of France. It said that each priest and their teams would be responsible for choosing which churches would be allowed to host ceremonies and the number of people allowed in.
French authorities eased lockdown measures earlier this month but did not end the ban on public worship, prompting complaints from religious groups.
It comes as US President Donald Trump ordered state governors to allow places of worship to reopen this weekend, saying they were "essential services".
He warned governors he would override them if they refused. The President does not have direct powers to do this, although he can withhold federal aid.