Some churches in Orava remained open despite ban

The police will deal with the incidents.

At least two parishes in the Orava region in northern Slovakia did not respect a ban in order to keep churches open for the public. This was one of the measures introduced after the December 31 cabinet session, which came into force on January 1.

A public mass was held on the morning of January 1 in Liesek. There is even a video depicting dozens of people leaving the church, some not wearing masks, the Myorava.sme.sk website reported.

The police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident. The Regional Public Health Authority in Dolný Kubín will have final say, which can penalize those who violate the rules.

Another public mass was held in Habovka, also broadcast live by the local TV station, Myorava.sme.sk wrote.

A permission from hygienist questioned

The administrator of the parish in Liesek, Štefan Piták, has confirmed that they held the mass on January 1, explaining that they received an email from the Trstená dean Juraj Spuchľák that morning masses in the Tvrdošín district could be held.

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“One of the aims was to tell believers that other masses will be cancelled,” Piták said, as quoted by Myorava.sme.sk.

About 200 people came to the church, which has 960 seats. Piták stressed that they observed all counter-pandemic measures.

Spuchľák added that Bishop Ján Kuboš agreed on the masses with the regional hygienists on the evening of December 31, before the ban was issued by the chief hygienist. He consulted the case with the bishop’s office, which said the masses could be held in the morning. Churches were supposed to close afterwards, he explained to Myorava.sme.sk.

Regional hygienist Mária Varmusová admitted that she was talking to the bishop. However, she said she did not cancel the ban to keep churches closed for the public as it would have to be officially published. If she permitted the masses, it would have to be properly explained.

As she said, the bishop probably misunderstood her, Myorava.sme.sk reported.

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