Strict Limits for Church Attendance Imposed in Slovakia This Christmas

A sheet of paper containing the set of COVID-related restrictions to church attendance for December 19-January 10 pasted on the entrance door of a Catholic church in the centre of Bratislava. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, December 24 (TASR) – Strict limits for the capacity of churches are in place in Slovakia during this Christmas, with people attending religious services being allowed to sit only in every other pew, while there has to be a vacant seat between neighbouring persons, according to a decree of the Public Health Authority in place for December 19-January 10.

Only sitting people are allowed to attend religious services, while the Public Health Authority said that communion in the hand should be “strictly observed”. In addition, the distribution of communion has been restricted only to the species of bread.

To tackle the limitations for attendance, more masses than usual will be celebrated in many Roman Catholic churches during the holidays in line with a special decree of the Vatican released earlier this month. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has granted a special permission for priests to say four Masses on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany.

However, regional public health authorities have banned public religious services in many Slovak districts altogether. This doesn’t apply to baptism, funerals, the rite of marriage and religious services said by a celebrant with the necessary assistance for online streaming. The ban also applies to the hearing of confessions, with the exception of deathbed confessions.