France announces lifting of bans on religious gatherings amid easing of lockdown restrictions.
THE French interior ministry has announced it is to allow the continuation of religious gatherings after a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus crisis, but worshippers will have to wear face masks.
The ministry said late on Friday that it would issue a decree setting out the new rules for religious gatherings. Under the decree, a ban on gatherings imposed in March, would be overturned. But collective worship would have to observe conditions, including the wearing of masks, a distance of at least one metre between worshippers and hand-washing.
The French government relaxed some of its lockdown restrictions earlier this month, but did not ease the ban on collective worship. That prompted complaints from faith groups, which said they were being treated unfairly.
The ministry statement said it expected worship to resume from the start of June, but that in some cases groups could worship together once the new rules were published.
Muslims, who make up around 9 per cent of France’s population, are this weekend celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the holy Muslim month of fasting.