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Coronavirus: Germany's churches open doors again

May 10, 2020

Christians across Germany have gathered at churches as state authorities ease restrictions on gatherings. For many of the faithful, Sunday service felt "like a fresh start" after spending Easter in confinement.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender arrive at church in Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Soeder

After spending Easter in confinement, scores of Christians flocked to church services across Germany on Sunday as authorities eased restrictions on religious services.

Last week, the German federal government announced its decision to defer authority on measures to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic to state. As such, some states have resumed religious services, albeit with certain measures in force.

Read more: Germany's Catholic chiefs reject cardinals' coronavirus 'conspiracy theories

"The service was like a fresh start, it was very moving," Susanne Romberg told the AFP news agency as she exited the Berlin Cathedral, which had held its first mass since lockdown measures when into effect.

For many of those attending Sunday services, the difference compared to a few months ago was palpable as restrictions included no singing, mandatory face masks and registration of attendance.

'Experience of community'

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier remarked on the "nice" feeling he had upon joining the faithful in mass at St. Mary's Church in Berlin.

Sunday mass at the drive-in

"This experience of community fills human beings with confidence and strength, even under special conditions such as the wearing of face-masks and gathering in smaller circles," Steinmeier said.

Read more: Muslims start an unusual month of fasting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the country had finished the "first phase" of the pandemic. However, she warned that the federal government and state authorities had agreed on an "emergency brake" in the event of a significant increase in the infection rate.

Earlier on Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute said the infection rate had increased to 1.1 from a low of 0.65 last week. An infection rate over 1.0 means more people are contracting the deadly pathogen than those who already had it.

Although Germany has one of the highest number of infections in the world, it has managed to keep its death toll relatively low. German authorities have reported more than 171,000 confirmed cases and 7,500 deaths.

ls/rc (AFP, dpa)

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