Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church
Several Egyptian Coptic monasteries said they will ban visits in the upcoming period, which sees the holy week, until Easter due to a spike in coronavirus infections.
The Monastery of Saint Anthony in the Red Sea announced on Friday a ban on visits starting Monday and until further notice.
In Wadi El-Natrun, the monastery of El-Suryan said it will also stop allowing visitors, starting Monday until 4th May, the statement said.
Anba Sawiris, the Archbishop of Anba Thomas monastery in Upper Egypt’s Sohag and Mari Buqtur Monastery in Khatatba as well as being the supervisor of Anba Moussa in Alamein said that the three monasteries will not accept visits during the end of the fast of great lent, which falls on 23rd April and lasts until 1st May, due to the rise in infections.
They will however reopen doors to visitors on Easter Sunday, which falls this year on 2nd May.
The first wave of the coronavirus outbreak last year had forced people to celebrate Easter at home, as Egypt saw unprecedented measures in March 2020 to stem the spread of the virus, including a nationwide night-time curfew as well as the suspension of prayers and activities at all houses of worship.
The pandemic forced the Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros to lead the Easter mass last year at the desert Monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun without attendees.
Churches were later allowed to reopen with restrictions for the first time in August after a steady decline in coronavirus infections over the summer.
The monasteries' ban on visits this year comes a few days after Egypt announced that there was a notable rise in infections in the past six weeks, adding that the governorates of Upper Egypt reported the highest infections in the past period.
Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a press conference on Thursday that citizens have failed in the past period to adhere to preventive measures against the virus.
She urged adherence to the preventive measures during Ramadan, which begins next week, warning citizens against family gatherings and other popular rituals during the month to stem the spread of infections.