05/06/2020, 16.14
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COVID-19: Lebanon to allow partial reopening of churches and mosques

Places of worship will be able to welcome up to 30 per cent of their maximum capacity for Friday prayers and Sunday Mass. Social distancing and sanitary rules will remain in place to prevent contagion. Prime Minister Diab appeals to fellow Lebanese to end divisions and join forces to help the country overcome its economic crisis.


Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After weeks of lockdown and no religious services as part of a policy to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi today partially lifted the ban on churches and mosques allowing them to reopen.

Christian and Muslim places of worship will be able to welcome worshippers at 30 per cent of their maximum capacity during Friday prayers and Sunday Masses.

Whilst meeting the demand of many worshippers – who, like in other parts of the world, want to go to church, receive the Eucharist and attend mass – the minister urged people to be extremely cautious.

All precautionary measures in fact are still in place to prevent new infections, including social distancing and personal sanitary measures introduced at the start of the outbreak to fight COVID-19.

Last month, the government approved a five-phase plan to reopen the country. The first phase began on 27 April, with the opening of some businesses and activities; the second started on 4 May; the third is set for 11 May with the opening of places of worship; the fourth, on 25 May and the fifth and last, on 8 June when, hopefully, the emergency will be mostly over.

Lebanon imposed a lockdown on 21 February. Since then, it has reported 741 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 25 deaths.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hassan Diab made an appeal to the country to put aside differences and divisions so that it can overcome an unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

The  government’s recovery plan, which is backed by the Church, is not a sacred text and changes and improvements can be made. In fact, Lebanon’s banking sector is highly critical since it risks losing US.2 billion.

"Time is very precious," said Diab, and “accumulated losses are very big. The situation is very painful, and the chance to rectify [it] will not last long.”

For months the country has been in a deep economic and political morass, exacerbated by the war in Syria, and now the novel coronavirus.

An increasingly chaotic Lebanon has been a source of concern for Church leaders, who bemoan a “plot to change the face" of the country.

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