Temples during pandemic: wearing masks, with their own rugs and no hand-kissing
The believers of Tatarstan finally waited for the decision of the authorities to open temples for visiting. The resolution 'On measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection in the Republic of Tatarstan” has been amended. Now citizens can visit places of worship, buildings and structures — however, religious organisations will have to comply with the requirements for the maximum number of persons who can simultaneously be in the temple.
If the area of the temple is not more than 400 square metres, then there should be 4 square metres per person. For larger premises, the decree states that no more than 100 people can be in them at the same time (together with the clergy and employees of the temple).
At the same time, the Cabinet of Ministers prescribes to follow all the recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor in order to prevent the spread of the virus: observe the mask-and-glove regime, social distance, ensure the availability of sanitisers in free access, airing the premises and disinfecting surfaces.
Marina Patyashina, the head of the Rospotrebnadzor of the Republic of Tatarstan, said that the headquarters are thinking about the partial lifting of restrictions on visiting temples. She said that it was not about mass gatherings of parishioners — only that people could “in a limited number” visit temples.
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The Council of Ulema of the Muslim Spiritual Board of the Republic of Tatarstan ordered its parishes (mahallya) to resume work from June 5. The restriction on collective worship is lifted on the condition that anti-epidemic rules are observed.
For example, believers with weakened immunity, who are worried for their health, as well as those over the age of 65, should refrain from visiting the mosque and Friday prayers (jumah). Those who use personal respiratory protection (mask), gloves and have an individual prayer Mat will be allowed to enter mosques and prayer rooms.
According to the press service of the Muslim Spiritual Borad of the Republic of Tatarstan, collective prayers in Muslim temples will be held only if the social distance between the worshippers is not less than 1,5 metres and no more than one person per 4 square metres of the prayer hall. As a guideline, parishioners can line up in rows at arm's length and take subsequent seats, deliberately leaving one empty row between the rows.
No more than 100 worshippers can enter the building of the mosques with a prayer hall area of more than 400 square metres at a time. If there are no empty seats in the mosque during Friday namaz, worshippers can pray on the territory of the temple.
The restrictions on holding Majlises, nikahs and name giving ceremonies with the participation of a large number of people still remain.
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On 4 June, Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan and Tatarstan issued an order on the new order of visiting temples. The clergy received instructions on what measures must be followed at the first stage of the release of temples and monasteries of the Kazan diocese from the regime of anti-epidemic restrictions.
Each monastery will have one temple that visitors can visit. From the gates of the monastery, partitions will be placed that will separate the path to the temple — thus excluding the access of visitors to the rest of the monastery's territory.
In churches, cathedrals and adjacent territories, a distance of at least one and a half metres must be observed between parishioners. The safe capacity of each temple will be determined by its priests. The calculation is following — one person per 4 square metres, and it does not take into account the premises that are inaccessible to parishioners (the altar, utility rooms, solea, choir-place). Specially trained parish staff (or volunteers) should monitor the safe occupancy of the temple.
Dispensers with disinfectant solutions are to be installed at the entrances to churches and cathedrals. In large temples, it is recommended to install containers with antiseptics also inside the premises, and not just at the entrance.
In a temple, a parishioner must wear a mask.
If the maximum allowed number of people has already entered the church, the rest of the parishioners can participate in the service while being in the temple territory. To do this, it is recommended to ensure that the audio broadcast of the service is possible so that it can be heard by those who do not get inside the church.
Clergy, temple staff, and volunteers must wear masks when communicating with people. Including during confession. Priests are instructed to refrain from offering their hands for kissing. All ministers and volunteers of the temple need to treat their hands or gloves with skin antiseptics at least once every two hours.
In the temple, they must strictly observe the regime of airing and cleaning during the day. It is required to clean icons, and other items of church utensils with a disinfectant solution. In a prominent place at the entrance to the church, posters must be placed that indicate the obligation to observe the distance and to wear a mask.
Parishioners over the age of 65 and other people at risk are asked to refrain from going to a church.