Eastern Orthodox churchgoers in the Republic of Cyprus no longer need to send an SMS before attending service during Holy Week, based on an FAQ issued by the government on Monday revising and clarifying the latest lockdown measures.
According to the health ministry, which issued a Frequently Asked Questions document on Monday, movement without having to send a text message to SMS Service 8998 is permitted for those attending a place of worship between April 26 and May 2.
While no specific hours were listed in the official clarification, the government said the exception to the SMS requirement was valid “only during Devine Liturgy hours” during the Holy Week through Easter Sunday.
Currently only up to one legitimate outing is permitted daily with people required to send a text message before going out, with the church exception joining a number of other activities where no SMS is needed such as walking the dog around the block.
The government called on believers to observe health protocols and pointed to church officials as the ones bearing responsibility for strict adherence to rules
The government called on believers to observe health protocols and also pointed to church officials as the ones bearing responsibility for strict adherence to the rules.
Earlier on Monday officials from the Cyprus Bar Association said they were concerned that government lockdown measures were trampling on rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion and freedom of movement.
CBA president Christos Clerides cried foul after the government also said it would extend the immunity proof requirement in post-lockdown measures, starting May 10, to include places of gathering such as churches, retail shops, and restaurants.
According to the latest revisions, up to 50 people are allowed to worship inside the church during Holy Week provided they have been vaccinated with a shot against COVID-19 at least three weeks prior.
Another revision included clarification on house gatherings for Easter Sunday, when up to ten individuals including children are permitted to attend a residential social event.
While previous statements pointed out that attendees could not be from more than two different family households, government officials on Monday clarified there was no limit to how many different family households could be taking part in a house gathering as long as the total number of persons did not exceed 10.