Religious Events Will Have To ‘Adapt’ Around Coronavirus: Theresa Tam

Premila D'Sa

As major events like Easter and Ramadan approach, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging religious leaders to keep their celebrations in line with social distancing measures.

During a COVID-19 update Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam ran through a list of self-isolation reminders, for everyone from recent travellers to the faithful getting ready for springtime religious events.

“Even our most important religious observances, like Easter and Ramadan will need to be adapted,” she said. “I ask all religious leaders to be part of Team Canada’s efforts on physical distancing, to help us plank the curve of this epidemic.”

Tam’s reminder comes after many religious organizations have already made the move to shut down or stop in-person gatherings. 

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam attends a news conference in Ottawa on March 23, 2020. 

In Rome, Pope Francis is set to hold the first Easter mass without a public audience on April 12. The Vatican has been live-streaming the Pope’s daily mass since Mar. 9 after Italy’s rising novel coronavirus death toll put the entire country under lockdown. 

In Canada, leaders have been following the Vatican’s strategy, shutting down in-person services and closing parish offices.

Toronto’s Archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Collins advised churches to close, even for individual prayer, and released a schedule of masses that are set to be live-streamed.

Ontario has prohibited gatherings of more than five people, with exceptions made for large households. Jurisdictions around the country have implemented similar restrictions varying in size.

The Canadian Council of Imams released a joint statement with the Muslim Medical Association of Canada Mar. 12 asking for all prayer spaces to be closed down until Apr. 5 or further. Ramadan is set to begin on Apr. 23.

“As Muslims, we must do our part to reduce the spread of this virus,” said the statement. “In this difficult time, we must remain calm.” 

In lieu of a live stream, some Masjids have decided to host online lectures through YouTube, Facebook and Zoom, an online...

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