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Churches across N.S. suspend Sunday services as part of COVID-19 safety measures

Many churches across N.S. held their last church service on March 15. Most are suspending their Sunday service for the foreseeable future as safety measures around COVID-19 continue to increase. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Many parishioners were leaving their church services when the Nova Scotia government announced that the province has three presumptive cases of COVID-19.

READ MORE: 3 presumptive cases of coronavirus identified in Nova Scotia

The news came as most churches were wrapping up their final services for the foreseeable future, all in the name of following safety measures recommended by public health officials to suspend large gatherings in an effort to slow the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I think they’re taking it according to what the medical science is telling them and also using some common sense and scientific sense to adjust as we go along,” John Gabner said, a parishioner of St. Matthew’s United Church in downtown Halifax.

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Gabner says the church had made access to hand sanitizier readily available and that people were sitting far away from one another while they took in the sermon.

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He says knowing that the church is following public health recommendations is comforting and that it’s all part of a community effort to slow the spread of a virus that can carry many health risks for vulnerable populations.

“People who are not at high risk are doing things voluntarily to help people who are at high risk. So, if we can all do that and help each other out and do some small things to make life a little easier, I think that’s doing our part,” he said.

The Archdioceses of Halifax-Yarmouth is also implementing a suspension of all masses starting on March 16.

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READ MORE: Canadians abroad urged to return home while ‘commercial options still available’

An online statement was sent to all members of the faith community, informing them of the church services suspension and encouraging them to follow coverage of mass services online, or to read scriptures.

The letter states that more directives will be coming regarding what churches are to do in the event of funerals, weddings and Holy Week.

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