April 05, 2020
Religious leaders across the state should seek out other options to in-person faith gatherings in order to help mitigate the coronavirus spread as holidays such as Easter and Passover approach, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said.
Religious institutions are permitted to continue operating across the state, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, “individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations” until further notice, according to Wolf’s stay-at-home order for Pennsylvania.
“I know that we’re nearing several holidays, including major religious holidays like Easter and Passover,” Wolf said in a statement. “I am encouraging religious leaders hosting a holiday celebration to consider an alternative that does not bring people together in-person.”
“As a person of faith, I understand how important it is to worship, and that congregating, whether for a service or seder dinner, can be at the very core of one’s faith,” Wolf continued. “But I also understand how important it is to help neighbors, and the best way to help our neighbors right now is not by congregating. It’s by staying at home.”
Many churches and houses of worship across the state, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, have already taken measures to keep congregants from coming into contact with the virus. As the outbreak began, Archbishop Nelson Perez said that Philadelphia-area Catholics were no longer required to attend Sunday Masses.
In the meantime, Catholics who have wanted to participate in Mass on a remote basis have been able to watch a broadcast of Archbishop Perez’s 11:00 a.m. Sunday service via a livestream on the Archdiocese’s website and the Archbishop’s Facebook page.
“This year, Holy Week comes at a time when the coronavirus has abruptly altered our lives,” Archbishop Perez said. “For the common good, and for the preservation of each other’s health, it is essential for all Pennsylvanians to heed the governor’s call not to gather in large groups. We must embrace our common responsibility to one another and slow the spread of this virus. We are blessed with the gifts of technology and social media, which enable us to experience the richness of these Holy Days virtually.”
Easter Sunday is April 12, while Passover begins on Wednesday and goes until Thursday, April 16.
“I know that Pennsylvanians are strong, resilient and care about their families, friends, neighbors and community, including their religious communities,” Wolf said. “We must all continue to do our part to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
Pennsylvania has 10,017 confirmed coronavirus cases, the ninth-most of any state across the country, and 136 deaths as a result of COVID-19 as of Saturday afternoon. With 2,610 positive cases and 24 deaths, Philadelphia has the most cases and deaths across the state.
Montgomery County has 982 cases and 17 deaths, Delaware County has 616 cases and 13 deaths, Bucks County has 488 cases and 11 deaths, and Chester County has 250 cases and two deaths.