On 20 May 2020, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided it would allow religious services to take place again from 28 May 2020.
Faith communities should be able to resume their common religious life, said the government.
Religious communities have one week to come up with plans to protect people from the virus and ensure possible chains of infection can be traced. A protection framework has been drawn up by the Federal Office of Public Health.
Religious gatherings have been at the centre of a number of high-spread Covid-19 clusters.
One cluster in Europe centred on a religious gathering in neighbouring France. Around 2,000 people attended an event at La Porte ouverte chrétienne, a Christian group in Mulhouse, that led to an estimated 1,000 cases, who then took the virus home with them. A 54 year old man, who attended the event and later died, was Switzerland’s fourth Covid-19 victim. The event took place from 7 to 21 February 2020. France’s first recorded cases were discovered on 24 January 2020 and the French government banned gatherings of more than 5,000 on 29 February 2020.
Other religious events, such as one in Qom in Iran and a Shincheonji church of Jesus prayer service in South Korea, were linked to rapid spread of the virus.
Some experts believe singing could increase viral spread by producing high levels of the droplets projected with force, a risk likely amplified when inside, especially when ventilation is limited.