Brazil government on Thursday released a list of essential services to be maintained amid the coronavirus pandemic that includes religious services, which are currently suspended in the country’s two most populous states as part of a prohibition on large gatherings.
According to the decree published in the official gazette, “Religious activities, of whatever nature” are to be permitted as long as they comply with the “determinations” of the Health Ministry, the media report said.
Most houses of worship in Brazil have abandoned in-person services in favour of televised rites, but many remain open to offer members of the congregation in need of “individual” attention.
Latin America’s largest nation has 2,433 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 57 deaths.
After the publication of Bolsonaro’s decree, the Rio state Attorney General’s Office urged Governor Wilson Witzel to take steps to ensure “suspension of all and every kind of in-person gathering in the ambit of religious organizations.”
Bolsonaro asserts that social distancing should apply only to the elderly and infirm, even after more than a dozen of the people who accompanied him earlier this month on an official visit to the United States tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, thousands of Brazilian expressed anger at President Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic by banging pots and pans together on balconies
The protesters in the major cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro appeared at windows, calling for the Bolsonaro to step down as coronavirus cases in Brazil has increased to 428 with four fatalities.
The president, who has previously dismissed precautions taken against the novel coronavirus as “hysteria” and “fantasy”, has been criticised for his response to the deadly outbreak.
However 14 people who travelled with him to Florida to meet US President Donald Trump have tested positive for the virus.