A statement issued by the Coptic Church this morning Saturday 21 March announced the closure of all Coptic churches in Egypt starting 21 March 2020 and until further notice. The move comes in the wake of several measures taken by Egypt’s government in an effort to stem the spread of Coronavirus. Schools, learning institutions, and universities have been closed as well as restaurants, coffee shops, gathering halls, amusement parks, and all places where large gatherings occur. Condolence and wedding events were banned. Workforce in government offices and businesses has been reduced, with staff encouraged to work from home. The Coptic Church last week halted all activities, meetings, and Sunday School; allowing only Mass.
The Church’s statement of today reads:
“The standing committee of the Holy Synod has convened this morning, presided over by Pope Tawadros II, to discuss the latest on the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19, and has issued the following statement:
“In context of the exceptional situation currently encompassing the world, also in view of successive declarations by the World Health Organisation, which reveal the rapid spread of novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 disease worldwide including in our beloved Egypt, and following the great effort by those in authority to contain a pandemic considered the worst health crisis over centuries;
“And seeing that gatherings constitute the largest hazard in the spread of the virus;
“The Coptic Orthodox Church has, in view of her national and ecclesiastical responsibility and her concern for all Egyptians, decided to:
Close all churches and halt ritualistic services, Mass, and activities.
Close all condolence halls. restricting attendance of funeral services to the family of the deceased. Every parish should allocate one church in which to hold funerals. Visits to all monasteries or convents are banned.
This decision is effective as of Saturday 21 March for a period of two weeks, and until further notice.
“The Church recalls the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’ (Matt 4: 7), and calls upon all Copts inside and outside Egypt not to underrate the current crisis, and to comply with the measures taken by the relevant authorities, in order to effectively help avert an impending crisis obvious in the escalating number of infections and deaths owing to COVID-19. It is neither wise nor faithful for a person to be the cause of infection or loss of a loved one.
“The Church calls upon all to raise prayers and supplications everywhere, confident that prayers will reach the Almighty God who will have compassion on us and remove this tribulation. He shall give healing, peace, and calm to all the world, and bless the efforts to confront the world-threatening pandemic.
“We pray incessantly that God would grant healing and health to all who caught the virus, and bless the medical corps in charge of following up on and treating the sick to health.”
An hour following publication of the Coptic Church’s statement, the Ministry of Endowments issued a statement closing all mosques, allowing only the broadcast of the call to prayer, azan, at the times of prayer.
21 March 2020