Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church said on Saturday it will will extend the suspension of prayers and activities in its churches until 27 June due to the spread of the coronavirus.
In an official statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said the decision was made during a meeting by the Holy Synod headed by Pope Tawadros II to discuss the resumption of prayers and educational services which have been suspended since March in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
The Church has decided to extend the suspension of prayers, the statement said, but it will allow the celebration of a mass marking the entry of Jesus Christ to Egypt on 1 June and the mass of Pentecost on 7 June in the limited attendance of six monks and deacons.
The Church said it will continue closing halls designated for funeral services at churches, limiting such services to the family of the deceased only.
Baptism will only be held in churches in the attendance of the family of the baptised child.
The decision to hold marriage ceremonies with a limited number of attendees in churches remains in place.
The Church said the decision comes as “daily infections continue to rise towards a peak for an unknown period,” adding that the committee headed by the Pope will meet again on 27 June to reassess the situation.
Egypt's Christians make up about 10-14 percent of the country's 100 million-plus population, with the vast majority of Christians in Egypt belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Egypt has suspended mass prayers at mosques and shut down churches in March in a move aimed at curbing the outbreak of the pandemic in the populous country.
The suspension is the result of fear of wide transmission of the virus through worship houses after religious gatherings in other countries were linked to hundreds of coronavirus cases.