Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov says his ministry has no plans to ask the government to introduce additional quarantine curbs on Orthodox Easter holidays.
"The Health Ministry has no plans to request additional restrictions on the Easter holidays from the government," he said at a briefing on Tuesday, an UNIAN correspondent reported.
Read alsoNo nationwide lockdown scheduled for May holidays – Chief Medical OfficerHowever, as a measure to avoid a surge in new cases after Easter, Cabinet officials, led by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, met with representatives of the churches, with whom they agreed to reduce the duration of church services with a simultaneous increase in their frequency. They also agreed that the doors of the churches would be kept open and physical contact when performing the rituals, i.e. kissing crosses, icons, and shrines, would not be allowed.
"We have also found support from the clergy so that one family member could take part in the church service if possible. It is also advisable to exclude the attendance of the church service by the elderly people and those who have chronic diseases," the minister said.
Stepanov emphasized Ukrainians should wear face masks during the church service, regardless of whether they would stay indoors or outdoors.
"Remember that, unlike believers, the coronavirus is a convinced atheist. It has no holidays, it will always try to affect you or your relatives," he added.
Orthodox Easter amid COVID-19 quarantine
- This year, Ukraine marks Orthodox Easter on May 2.
- Stepanov expects a surge in new COVID-19 cases after the Easter holidays and advises citizens against going to the church where priests are to bless Easter eggs and paskas (traditional sugar-topped Easter cakes).
- Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Epifaniy (Epiphanius) backed Stepanov's statement. He said it would be better for at-risk church members to watch the church service online.
- The churches will be open for Orthodox Easter, but everything will be done to safeguard their members during the COVID-19 epidemic. In particular, paskas will be blessed at bakeries before they go on sale.