Covid-19: Representatives of Religious denominations and government agree rules on restarting religious activity

Representatives of various religious denominations met today at the Ministry of Justice to discuss, together with the Director-General for Health, “the general principles” to be applied in the gradual resumption of religious activity scheduled for 31 of May.

The Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, clarified that the meeting “aimed essentially to establish with the religious communities (Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish, Ismaili, Buddhist and Hindu) the general principles of a technical nature that the gradual restart of the activity must obey. “of the various religious confessions in the period of illness of the covid-19.

At the end of the meeting, which was also attended by the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, and the Assistant Secretary of State to the Prime Minister, Tiago Antunes, the Minister of Justice said that there is “a set of general rules, such as distance and the use of protective materials “that will have to be respected, as some religious rituals involve hugging and shaking hands, which contracts the distancing rule”.

Francisca Van Dunem said that the Directorate-General for Health (DGD) will distribute a document with the protection measures to be followed and the various religious denominations “will adapt the rules to the respective ceremonies and services”, after which this strategy will pass through permanent contact between the DGS and the different rites.

The minister did not dwell on the possibility of resuming ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms, saying only that this will depend on the DGS and that this first phase (the restart of religious activity) will be gradual and progressive.

He reiterated that today “generic ideas” were discussed and that next steps will be taken in articulation between the DGS and the religious confessions that are part of the Religious Liberty Commission, which functions in its ministry, since the Minister of Justice is a member of the responsible government for religious freedom issues.

Regarding the lifting of confinement measures in the period of covid-19, the minister recalled that, in late April, the government decided to carry out the gradual de-termination, a strategy that covered religious communities of public dimension that had been affected in religious practice due to restrictions rights, freedoms and guarantees imposed by the state of emergency.

As noted by a note from the Ministry of Justice, “the confinement measures adopted to ensure non-contamination and the treatment of covid-19 involved the restriction of rights and freedoms, but the State’s religious impartiality does not allow the expression to be deprived for much longer. public space, nor can the State ignore religious practice and culture as an integral part of the personality of many, in their primordial dignity “.

Portugal accounts for 1,190 deaths associated with covid-19 in 28,583 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest daily bulletin from DGS on the pandemic.

Portugal entered on May 3 in a calamity situation due to the pandemic, after three consecutive periods in a state of emergency since March 19.

This new phase of combating covid-19 provides for mandatory confinement for sick people and under active surveillance, the general duty of home collection and the mandatory use of masks or visors in public transport, public attendance services, schools and commercial establishments.


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