The lockdown must be eased gradually, with special care as regards places where the elderly tend to congregate, the Cyprus Medical Association said on Monday replying to calls from 152 health professionals for churches to reopen.
It is the latest development in a growing debate over when churches will be be permitted to allow congregations.
In an open letter to President Nicos Anastasiades over the weekend, 152 health professionals asked for the reopening of churches to the faithful..
The argued double standards were in play as businesses can remain open to sell foodstuffs but no provision has been made for the spiritual health of citizens.
They suggested a maximum number of people in churches, using the same criteria as supermarkets. The rest can sit outside the church at a safe distance indicated on the ground.
The government replied that there has been no discussion as yet over the possibility of opening churches.
However, Archbishop Chrysostomos is reported to have requested a meeting with the President to discuss churches being included in stage one of the relaxation of the lockdown. The lockdown exit strategy is due to be approved by cabinet on Wednesday
Limassol Bishop Athanasios has asked for a meeting of the Holy Synod to while religious instruction high school teachers also issued an announcement on Monday asking that the faithful be able to attend church services, subject to restrictions on social distancing in force elsewhere.
The teachers said closing the churches to the faithful over Easter week had been a particularly painful spiritual test, but had been adhered to.
In an announcement on the issue, the Cyprus Medical Association said that social distancing breaks the transmission of the virus, adding that the easing of restrictive measures must be done carefully.
It added that Covid-19 was very contagious which was why measures had been taken to prevent people from crowding together. This was particularly important as relates to places where the elderly, who are vulnerable, tend to go.
The main concern of all is to protect the health and life of all, both clergy and the faithful, particularly those belonging to the vulnerable groups.
Normality and economic activity must be gradually, and safely restored, CMA added.
It said it agreed with the state’s decision for the gradual lifting of measures accompanied by strict hygiene rules and close monitoring.
These must introduced taking into consideration scientific guidance and the practice in other countries.