An expanded reception capacity for religious celebrations

The noose loosens. The new measures imposed by the government for religious gatherings constitute a real easing of sanitary conditions. A long negotiated opening, which removes the fixed gauge of thirty people that the Council of State had denounced on Sunday, November 29. And which does not include either the proposal of 6 m² per person, however mentioned by Jean Castex Wednesday morning, at the microphone of BFM.

It was in a late press release, in the evening, Wednesday, December 2, that Gérald Darmanin announced the new criteria to be implemented for any gathering: “In order to reconcile freedom of exercise of worship and sanitary measures, a new gauge of present in religious buildings has been established”, specifies the Minister of the Interior.

If it establishes without citing a proportion of the order of 15% of the capacity of religious spaces, the government fixes the details of the material organization: it is planned “For the organization of ceremonies, to leave two seats free between each person or family entity, and to occupy only one row out of two”, is it enacted, measures confirmed by the decree published in the wake. A precise device which does not necessarily correspond to all places of worship, such as mosques in particular or Buddhist temples, but which clearly responds to the request of the Catholic Church.

The Conference of French Bishops (CEF) welcomed the new system: “This measure proportionate to the capacity of the buildings, although restrictive, is applicable, specifies the press release published on Wednesday evening. The Catholic faithful will therefore have to apply this measure, in particular the next two Sundays, December 6 and 13. “ We will also note the precision linked to members of the same family who are not subject to the rules of distancing, while respecting the distribution of one bench in two, which will increase the possibility of reception.

For Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France and main representative of the Jewish cult, this new protocol also appears consistent: “We were already neutralizing two seats per family during previous services, he emphasizes. And this is only the case of a fortnight, since the protocol will be the subject of new discussions for December 15. “

On the Evangelical side, the new measure is deemed fair since it adapts to the size of the different churches, but several misunderstandings remain: “The government communicates in terms of distancing and does not reflect on the capacity of places of worship while some are able to optimize the available space, regrets Romain Choisnet, spokesperson for the National Council of French Evangelicals (Cnef). The government also seems to presuppose that services are necessarily held on a chair, but there may be benches, rugs, and worship is not always practiced seated. ” He adds that small buildings, less than 200 m², are the big losers from this decree since the new gauge forces them to have a very low capacity.

The late announcement of the new health protocol also makes it difficult to organize Friday prayers for the Muslim community. “We must put in place markings on the ground, and give clear instructions to the faithful, explains the president of the regional council for Muslim worship in Rhône Alpes, Cengiz Kalayci. I will therefore not urge mosques in the region to reopen their doors until next week. “

The next stage is set for December 15, in the hope of the second phase of alleviating containment. The organization of Christmas celebrations for Christians will depend on this calendar, and the French Bishops’ Conference is already hoping for a new easing: The Church “Now, after reading the health data, awaits the possible reassessment of this gauge from December 15. “ The government door is not closed: “The consultations will continue in the coming days, in order to prepare the evolution of the containment measures from December 15th”, announces the Minister of the Interior.


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