Rationale for prohibiting holy masses and guiding other church rites
We are fully aware of your situation with significant restrictions on the exercise of spiritual service, and I would like to clarify to you the aspects of this measure to restrict public worship meetings to all Churches, churches and denominations in the Slovak Republic. Given the knowledge of other countries and the evolution of the epidemic in different regions of the world, with a high probability of endangering and potentially affecting COVID-19 in a large population, especially the groups who were most likely to experience severe course and mortality, we decided to take such measures at the territory of the Slovak Republic as early as possible so that as many people as possible can avoid contact with sick people. The Central Crisis Staff, which is the coordinating body of the Government of the Slovak Republic for dealing with crisis situations outside the time of war and state of war with effect from March 10, 2020, has banned organizing mass events of sport, cultural, social or other nature for 14 calendar days. Measures to prevent the spread of the communicable disease COVID-19 are taken in connection with the adverse development of the epidemiological situation in the occurrence of COVID-19 diseases caused by coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which is observed in other countries, particularly the European Union. Based on the occurrence of COVID-19 diseases, which have been laboratory confirmed by the National Reference Laboratory for Influenza at the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic, there is a high risk that this disease may spread further in connection with mass events where more people meet. The Measure Prohibition is one of the most effective measures to prevent the outbreak and is one of the important tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 diseases caused by coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the Slovak Republic.
The disease is manifested mainly by cough, shortness of breath, fever, and in severe cases also pneumonia, in case of complications it can end up in death. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization declared a state of global health emergency. As a state of global health emergency, the World Health Organization refers to situations or diseases that may also spread to other countries, this type of event requiring coordinated international cooperation and sometimes measures that are highly specific and based on the biological nature and pathways of spreading.
The purpose of this temporary measure, which, among other mass events, has banned masses and other worship meetings with the participation of the faithful, is that holy masses are events in which people who are most at risk of coronavirus are gathered, such as seniors, people suffering from various chronic diseases and where the risk of infection is greater and the subsequent course of the disease is usually severe and statistically most often leads to death.
The Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic emphasizes that the measures ordered by the Chief Public Health Officer of the Slovak Republic are aimed at protecting human health and preventing their possible death.
We have sent you the following guidelines for organizing other church rites:
-arrange only those ceremonies that cannot be postponed,
-organize ceremonies only for groups with as few people as possible,
-exclude from the ceremonies completely persons who have been ordered to quarantine or show any signs of respiratory infectious disease.
If necessary ceremonies take place, it is necessary to keep the distance between persons who are not from one household (distance 1.5 meters), observe respiratory rules (cough and sneeze in the handkerchief or elbow bend), do not shake hands, exercise disinfection. In areas where ceremonies are carried out, remove containers with water, perform frequent disinfection of areas, especially touch surfaces, floors, objects, handles, etc. Strictly observe only the serving of bread on hand, do not use drinking ceremonies from one pot (eg drinking with a cup by more than one person) and so on.
It is essential that each person's behavior contributes to the best possible handling of this difficult situation, so that his or her actions do not contribute to the spread of the disease and do not endanger human health. In this sense it is necessary to adopt and accept the issued regulation.
Despite the difficulties that this decision entails for the pursuit of your profession, I would like to assure you that this prohibition will only last for an unavoidably long period. I would also like to ask and encourage you to give priority to individual visits to patients who are not ill or isolated from a suspect or confirmation of infection or COVID-19 and who need spiritual accompaniment and spiritual support.