This morning, Saturday 30 May 2020, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt issued a statement explaining the cautionary measures to be implemented to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The statement began with the Bible verse from St Paul’s epistle to the Romans: “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). It went on to state: “The Church has been following up very closely on the course of the spread of COVID-19 throughout the past period, and has observed the increase in numbers of daily infections. It is not known when these numbers would peak.
“The standing committee of the Holy Synod has today convened, presided over by Pope Tawadros II, to discuss the resumption of ritual worship and educational services in churches. In light of the above, we have decided the following:
“1. Extension of the suspension of prayers in churches until 27 June when the committee would reconvene to reconsider the matter. In exception, however, liturgies may be held on 1 June, 24 Pashons, to mark the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family into Egypt; and on 7 June, 30 Pashons, to celebrate the Feast of the Pentecost. Each of these liturgies may be celebrated by only six members of the clergy, including the priests and deacons.
“2. Extension of the restrictions that apply to funerals: only family members of the deceased are allowed to attend, and it is preferable that the funeral service be held at the churches located within the cemeteries. Third-Day and Arbaeen services shall be suspended.
“3. Baptisms shall be conducted in attendance of only the family of the child to be baptised.
“4. Matrimony prayers shall follow the same rules already in effect [with attendance of only six members of the families of the bride and groom, in addition to the priest conducting the service and a deacon].
“5. Educational and pastoral services should go on being conducted online by priests and Church servants, to carry on with the mission of the Church to all her sons and daughters.
“This statement concerns our churches in Egypt; churches outside Egypt shall follow the rules of their host countries.
“All health precautions should be adhered to.
“As we feel with everyone yearning for worship and prayer in church, also appreciating the needs of the current times, we stress the Biblical command: ‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise’ (Eph 5: -5-16).
“We pray for our country and the whole world, that the Lord would lift the pandemic.”
Friday 29 May, Egypt recorded a daily count of 1289 cases of COVID-19, and 34 deaths.