Georgian churches will not close for Easter, but patriarchate will make some concessions
Georgian churches will not close on Easter night, and the liturgy will be held in accordance with existing traditions and in the presence of parishioners. At the same time, the patriarchate decided to comply with the recommendation prescribed by the Ministry of Health – to maintain a social distance of at least two meters.
To ensure that this distance is maintained, appropriate markings have been made in churches and churchyards to help parishioners. In small churches, the liturgy will be held without worshippers, and priests will give the liturgy only in the presence of other clergy members of the same church.
The same decision adopted jointly by the government and the patriarchate stipulates that parishioners will come to church before 21:00 and leave them after 6:00 in order to avoid breaking curfew.
The Batumi diocese came to their own solution. In churches, the Sunday liturgy will be held in the morning, and in monasteries, it will be held at night, but without parishioners.
As of April 16, there are 336 reported cases of coronavirus in Georgia. 5000 people are in quarantine, 494 are under inpatient monitoring. 74 patients have recovered. Three have passed away.
Police officers will be on duty near the churches to ensure that they maintain social distance, said Advisor to the Prime Minister Irakli Chikovani. He also said that all cemeteries in major Georgian cities will be temporarily closed to visitors starting April 17.
- Tbilisi and three other cities in Georgia quarantined
- “Thousands may get infected in Georgia within 2-3 weeks” – Center for Disease Control
The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia has exceeded 300. Epidemiologists and doctors are urging the population not to leave their homes unless there is an extreme necessity, as the Ministry of Health system can not cope with the sharp rise in the number of patients. A state of emergency and a curfew have been declared in Georgia to counter the pandemic. Shopping centers, markets, and public transport have all been shut down. Many businesses stopped operating, and hundreds of people were left without work. Gatherings of more than three people are prohibited. Police have already fined numerous violators three thousand lari [about $1,000] each.
With all this, the Georgian patriarchate essentially refuses to comply with the state of emergency restrictions and continues to conduct crowded services and use one shared communion cup for all parishioners.