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Coronavirus: When will communal religious services resume in Germany?

Religious representatives and representatives of the federal states discuss how to resume communal religious services during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus and religious life in Germany: Representatives of religious groups in Germany and representatives of the federal states have met to discuss the restrictions during the coronavirus crisis and steps to follow to allow religious life to resume without raising the risk of infection.

From the discussions it emerged that churches and religious communities have been broadly upholding restrictive measures to contain the coronavirus from the very beginning, as the protection of human health and life is the priority of all concerned.

The participants however agreed that there was need to find ways of allowing religious life to gradually resume.

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Dr Markus Kerber, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, said: “I am impressed by the great commitment of Christians, Jews and Muslims in countering the corona pandemic. At the same time, I am grateful for the understanding shown by the churches, the representatives of the Jewish community, and representatives of Muslims in Germany regarding the measures imposed to contain the virus. Now we must find ways to gradually allow communal worship to resume without letting the infection rate increase.”

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community will now coordinate with the federal states and use the strategies of the churches and religious communities as a basis for a proposal to be submitted to the next meeting of the Federal Chancellor with the heads of federal state governments.
The proposal will set out possible steps and conditions under which communal worship, pastoral care and funerals might be resumed shortly after 30 April 2020, while maintaining strict requirements of health protection and infection control.

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The meeting was attended by Dr Markus Kerber (State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior), Prof. Dr Günther Krings (Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior), representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, and the heads of the senate/state chancelleries of the federal states of Hamburg (Jan Pörksen), Baden-Württemberg (Dr Florian Stegmann) and North Rhine-Westphalia (Nathanael Liminski). The latter three took part as representatives of their federal states.

The religious communities were represented in the discussion by Prelate Karl Jüsten (head of Berlin’s Katholisches Büro of the German Bishops’ Conference), Prelate Martin Dutzmann (representative of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany to the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union), Archimandrit Emmanuel Sfiatkos (representative of the Orthodox Bishops’ Conference in Germany to the Federal Government and at the Bundestag), Daniel Botmann (director of the Central Council of Jews in Germany) and Burhan Kesici (speaker of the Muslim Coordination Council and head of the Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany).

The heads of the senate/state chancelleries of the federal states of Hamburg (State Councillor Jan Pörksen), North Rhine-Westphalia (State Secretary Nathanael Liminski) and Baden-Württemberg (State Secretary Florian Stegmann) joined the discussion via telephone.

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