Representatives of Christian churches and Jewish religious communities sent a letter to PM Eduard Heger with a request to allow all people to go to church again.
They say that unvaccinated people are allowed in non-essential shops when observing very strict measures.
“We ask you, in terms of the spiritual life associated with religion, which belongs to the fundamental rights and freedoms defined in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic, to have worship services also considered as essential,” they wrote in a letter, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
In the interest of peace in society
They consider the protection of life and health of all people to be their duty.
“That is why we have long sought to work with public institutions and representatives to manage the situation,” they added in the letter, as quoted by TASR. “Indeed, we are always willing to adopt appropriate rules and measures and we will continue to promote peace, encourage belonging and encourage mutual assistance. We ask you to understand our situation and to make good decisions that will lead to the greater common good for Slovakia.”
Ivan Eľko, President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Slovak Republic, Richard Duda, President of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in the Slovak Republic, and Stanislav Zvolenský, President of the Slovak Bishops' Conference, pointed out that in the whole territory of Slovakia, due to measures against the spread of Covid, participation in services for believers who do not meet the so-called OP (vaccinated and recovered) criterion is impossible in long-term, compared to other EU countries.
There is no vaccine mandate
Before Christmas and Hanukkah they endorsed Covid measures because of the possible threat of the collapse of the healthcare system.
“But it is not sustainable for worship services in the long term,” they say. “While the state does not plan to impose a vaccination mandate to its citizens, it de facto continues to make it a condition for believers to attend services. And [the state] requires the clergy to limit participation [at services].”
They further claim that worship services are an essential part of their expression of faith.
"At the same time, in the circumstances of the pandemic, we have not detected that services have made a significant contribution to the spread of the disease,” they claim. “That is why we want to ask you to create anti-pandemic measures with regard to worship services based on the fact that for believers participation in them is fundamental - they are among the key, irreplaceable needs of the spiritual life," they added, as quoted by TASR.
At the same time, they added that worship cannot be permanently classified as a mass event.