The government of Denmark has declared its intention to open churches on Easter Sunday so Danes “can celebrate Easter in church in a responsible way” during the coronavirus lockdown.
Denmark imposed a lockdown on March 11 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, obliging citizens to remain at home except for essential excursions, such as trips to the supermarket or pharmacy. The lockdown included shutting down Christian churches as well as synagogues and mosques.
The partial opening of churches for Easter Sunday would constitute the first relaxation of quarantine regulations since the COVID-19 outbreak in February, a measure that some have criticized.
“Easter is the most important celebration of the church year,” said Denmark’s Minister of Culture and Church, Joy Mogensen. “This is especially the case during a dark time when the Danes are looking for community and meaning, which is why the government is now working on a solution so that we can celebrate Easter in church in a responsible way.”
Denmark has only had 3,861 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, with just 139 deaths of persons testing positive for the virus and 1,287 already recovered from the disease.
On March 30, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated that if the coronavirus curve continues to flatten, the country could begin opening up again in the near future, perhaps just after Easter.
Mr. Frederiksen insisted that the crisis was far from over and citizens must continue complying with government restrictions if the country is to begin opening up in two weeks’ time.
The prime minister also noted that the number of new COVID-19 cases is currently stable, but the next few weeks will be critical to move beyond the crisis.
At the same time, representatives of the Church of Denmark have been speaking with the Danish Health Authority and the Ministry of Culture and Church regarding how to allow services to take place on Easter Sunday without causing a health risk to the faithful.
The government has given no details concerning what a responsible church service would look like. In Italy, churches initially eliminated the greeting of peace and asked all present to receive Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue, but not long after, all church services were suspended.