The conservative Greek government could not resist to the pressure of the Greek Orthodox Church and made concessions allowing one more service over the Christmas holidays and the increase of number of the participating faithful.
The concessions to the Church leadership and a part of the voters’ body came after a phone conversation between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Archbishop of Athens and whole Greece Ieronymos on Monday afternoon.
The decision was signed by several ministers and published in the official gazette on Tuesday.
They will be open to the faithful on December 25, 2020, on January 1 and January 6, 2021.
Allowed are 1 faithful per 15 square meters and up to 25 people maximum in normal churches and up to 50 in Metropolis churches.
The ceremony of Blessing the Waters (Epiphany) on Jan 6 is not allowed to take place outdoors.
Regarding family gatherings on December 24, 25 and 31, 2020 as well as on January 1, 2021 allowed are gatherings up to nine people that are members of two families.
The night curfew 10:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m. will remain in force.
The ministerial decision does not mention what SMS option the faithful and the families will have to send to 13033.
Speaking to Skai TV in the morning, professor for Microbiology, Athanasios Tsakris, said that the country’s epidemiologists gave the OK for the increase of the believers in churches stressing that “there will be no problem if the precautionary measures are properly implemented, ie the use of a mask, the ventilation of the temples before and after the service.”
He added that “the Church has played a very important role in proper implementation of protection measures.”
While young and old will queue to receive the Holy Communion as the tradition dictates, health experts ring the alarm bells for the family gatherings at home. Some even warned that there will be a quick spread of the coronavirus – “in 8 minutes” – if 20 people gather at home without masks.
Professor Tsakris expressed the concern of the scientists for even the small meetings that are expected to take place during the holidays.
“It’s something that contributes to viral infections in general,” he said, warning that they expect the epidemic to peak in January.
He stressed that the safest thing would be for us all to celebrated in our own home.
He also advised that the areas where people gather are well ventilated and distances be observed.
PS after opening the churches for a higher number of believers that the original 9, I hear that small and medium shop owners, especially those wearing clothes and shoes, are wondering why they have to remain closed over the festive days.