Bishop of Iceland David B. Tencer has released a statement regarding today’s news that the Catholic Church in Reykjavík, Landakotskirkja, had broken coronavirus restrictions twice—on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve.
As reported, coronavirus regulations dictate that no more than 10 people are permitted to attend church services, but some 51 people attended New Years mass. The church may be fined as a result.
In today’s statement, Bishop Tencer announced that effective immediately, Landakotskirkja would no longer permit Sunday mass nor Saturday evening vigils, as the church cannot follow the coronavirus regulations and continue these services at the same time.
However, the Bishop also had some pointed questions for Iceland’s health authorities, encouraging them to “change the regulations where equality does not seem to be ensured”.
“If it is possible to conduct a funeral or even hold a concert with 50 people, how is it that only 10 people may attend mass?,” the Bishop continued. “How do we explain to our congregants that many shops are permitted to receive more people? How does one explain that there may be no more than 10 people in Landakotskirkja but, for example, more than ten people can be in a sauna?”
The current coronavirus restrictions make no mention of saunas, but do say that swimming pools, where saunas are typically located, may have a maximum capacity of 50% of their normal capacity. The regulations also state that “[p]erforming arts, cinema theatres and other cultural events may have up to 30 persons on stage, i.e. during rehearsals and shows. Up to 50 seated guests may be accommodated. Such guests must wear face masks.” They further state that shops “may accept 5 persons for each 10 m2 of space and may have up to 100 customers in their premises, as long as it is possible to ensure at least 2 metres between persons who are unrelated.”
The Bishop expressed that while we all find it difficult to live under coronavirus restrictions, the regulations ought to be reviewed.
“I ask all of you, but especially those in charge of these regulations, to consider the matter with wisdom and correct this difficult inconsistency.”
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