Georgian Orthodox Church recommends worshippers maintain safe distance during services
Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II has sent out an emergency appeal to parishioners. As the spiritual leader notes, closing the doors to the church is simply not possible, and they will be open to any who wish to come, however:
In light of the coronavirus situation, Ilia II advises worshippers to maintain a distance while communicating with people, including in the church and the church courtyard. He also says that the number of people inside large cathedrals should be limited to the clergy, choir, and a few worshippers, but that most people should participate from the courtyard and stay in open spaces while taking part in prayers, while in small churches, services should only be held in the open air on temporary platforms.
“In light of the current situation, clergymen and priests will be given additional recommendations,” said Ilia II in the message released by the Georgian patriarchate.
By 10:00 on April 2, there were 130 coronavirus cases reported in Georgia. 5,437 people are under quarantine, 260 under in-patient surveillance, and 23 patients have recovered.
Ilia II urged elderly parishioners, who are a high-risk group, to stay at home, and if necessary, priests will come visit them there.
In order to counter the pandemic, the Georgian government declared a state of emergency, which will be in effect until April 21. Since March 31, no more than three people are allowed to gather at once, except in shops and pharmacies, where they must maintain a safe distance.
All types of public transport, including the metro, have been shut down. Online commerce is prohibited, excluding groceries. There is a curfew from 21:00 to 6:00. Nonetheless, during a meeting on March 20, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church decided not to change the communion rite, which involves using a single cup and spoon for all participants.