News World South Korea opens churches, designates seats for faithful

South Korea opens churches, designates seats for faithful

 

South Korea’s large churches reopened on Sunday, requiring worshipers to keep their distance and wear masks, after the government relaxed restrictions on religious gatherings aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Onnuri Church, one of the biggest churches in Seoul, required members to sign up online ahead of the service and sit on designated seats to maintain distance.

It has also limited attendance to 700 in a hall with a capacity of 3,000 people, a church official said.

Last Sunday, South Korea extended its social distancing policy until May 5 but offered some relief for religious and sports facilities previously subject to strict restrictions.

A secretive church, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was at the epicenter of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak, with about half of the country’s total infections of 10,728 linked to its members.

South Korea managed to curb the first major outbreak outside China with massive testing and aggressive contact tracing but there have been a series of small outbreaks involving churches and other clusters.

South Korea on Sunday reported 10 new cases, marking the eighth day when the number of new infections hovered around that level.

Church members expressed faith in the ability by South Korea and churches to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

When restrictions were put in place, South Korean churches turned to online or drive-in services where churchgoers attended by parking their cars on school playgrounds.

(REUTERS)

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