Coptic worshippers returned to the churches of Alexandria on Sunday morning for the first mass following a 55-day closure of churches as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with strict instructions and precautionary measures to maintain the safety of attendees.
The Cathedral of Mark in Alexandria, the oldest church in Africa, witnessed dozens of people attending the Divine Liturgy wearing masks, with workers assigned by the church to disinfect attendees’ hands upon entering. Seats were also assigned to each person according to an attendance registration list, with one person only on each bench. Special masses could be arranged for the Sunny stages, and the mass sermon should not exceed 15 minutes; all in implementation of the decisions of Pope Tawadros II Pope of Alexandria, Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.
The church opened all its doors at the end of the mass, to facilitate the exit movement without gathering or standing in the churchyard, as all attendees adhered to the instructions, and left immediately after completing mass prayer.
Father Abram Emil, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria stated to Al Watan that the Coptic people were longing to return to church in order to raise prayers once again, which was evident in the speed of reservation during the days prior to Sunday mass.
Emil also stressed that any church whose people do not abide by the precautionary measures announced, or in case of infections rising, the prayers will be suspended for a period of 15 days. The assessment of the situation will vary according to the fathers of each church, and the percentages of infections in them.
Sunday schools, meetings, activities and services will continue to be suspended, allowing only participation in wreath prayers and funerals with one person assigned per bench. Third prayers, funeral halls, intimate prayers and other ritualistic services held in homes will also continue to be suspended till further notice.
However, studies at the Clerical College in Alexandria, institutes and educational centers will resume through electronic communication, provided absences are to be confirmed via telephone.
Emil also emphasized that the church with its people and the clergy pray for God to deliver Egypt, and all countries across the globe, from all evil, and to protect humanity from the dangers of diseases and epidemics.