Virus hits again in Russia: mosques close; churches and synagogues remain open


Eastern Europe


A woman walks in front of Christ the Saviour cathedral, the main Russian Orthodox church in central Moscow. image AFP, Alexander Nemenov

To prevent the coronavirus from spreading, the Russian capital of Moscow has announced a week of so-called “non-working days” from October 28th to November 7th. During these days, churches and synagogues chose to remain open. Mosques, however, decided to close their doors.

According to Damir Mukhetdinov, the first deputy chairman of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of the Russian Federation, the directorate is drawing up an order regarding this issue. "We have already told believers that they should follow decisions of the government and the leadership of the Moscow mayor's office", Mukhetdinov told the press agency RIA Novosti.

Mukhetdinov added that because of Covid restrictions, it is hard to control the area near mosques. In the streets, there would be congestions.


Synagogues, however, have made a different decision. "In synagogues, schools and kindergartens belonging to the Jewish community, anti-epidemic measures have long been introduced and are working successfully", the press spokesman of Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar told RIA Novosti.

According to the press service, believers are required to wear masks and observe social distance from those entering the synagogues. "The overwhelming majority of community members are vaccinated or ill, so no additional restrictions are currently planned."

Secular institutions

The Russian Orthodox Church is not planning on tightening restrictions either. "Unlike secular institutions, since last summer, anti-epidemic measures in churches have remained unchanged", bishop Savva told RIA Novosti.

Savva adds that the Church will take responsibility for monitoring the current situation. "Just as the secular authorities will monitor more closely, for example, the mask regime, so the rectors should now be more demanding than at any other time to comply with the prescribed measures, "Bishop Savva said,

In practice, the non-working days' decision will affect three working days — November 1 to 3. November 4 is a national holiday in Russia (Unity Day), and November 5–7 is a long weekend.

Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov said that the government is offering to compensate companies with a one-time disbursement equivalent to one minimum-wage payment per employee.



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