Nova Scotia

How N.S. places of worship are handling COVID-19 pandemic

Most religious and spiritual organizations in Nova Scotia have cancelled public masses and gatherings until further notice, supporting people online and in other ways as a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Public masses, gatherings cancelled until further notice

A sign outside St. Andrew's United Church in Halifax that states worship has been postponed. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Most religious and spiritual organizations in Nova Scotia have cancelled public masses and gatherings until further notice, supporting people online and in other ways as a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For Roman Catholics in the Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese, all masses — both weekday and Sunday — and all other liturgical gatherings are suspended until further notice. 

"This action is taken as an expression of reasonability for the well-being of all entrusted to our care, as well as the common good of the broader community," Archbishop Anthony Mancini and Rev. Robert Doyle wrote in a letter dated March 13.

The letter, addressed to "priests, deacons and faithful," noted Premier Stephen McNeil's request that all gatherings be limited to no more than 150 people. The limit has now been reduced to 50 people.

Directions on funerals, weddings and Holy Week are coming, the letter said.

In addition to mass and liturgical gatherings, the suspension also applies to all other large parish gatherings.

The archdiocese is recommending churches remain open so people can come in for "personal prayer, for adoration of the reserved Sacrament, or private devotions."

It is also recommending people watch mass on television and meditate on the scriptures for each Sunday. Priests are expected to celebrate mass privately and to continue to make themselves available for pastoral care.

The province's other Catholic archdiocese, Antigonish, has also made sweeping changes.

"All Sunday and weekday Masses are to be cancelled immediately and until further notice, as are diocesan and parish events, celebrations and programs," read a note posted to Facebook earlier this week.

The Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island has said their parishes will not hold public gatherings for worship until at least April 3. 

The remaining Lent programs and events are also cancelled.

The United Church of Canada has suggested their parishes suspend in-person worship and other gatherings, including funerals. They are encouraging online worship instead.

Rockingham United Church has closed until further notice, and Sydney's United Heritage Church has also closed. St. Andrew's United Church in Halifax has done the same, but live-streamed the March 15 service.

All five mosques in HRM (Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre, Islamic Association of Nova Scotia, Barakah Masjid, Centre for Islamic Development and Ummah Masjid and Community Centre) have cancelled Jummah prayers until further notice.

The Baha'i Faith Community New Year (NawRuz) Celebration scheduled for today in Halifax has been cancelled.

The Hindu Temple Halifax and the Halifax Shambhala Centre have both closed until further notice.

On Thursday, the Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Halifax announced on its Facebook page that services and programs have been suspended until further notice.

With files from Haley Ryan

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