After Germany reopened places of worship this month, congregants of an Evangelical Baptist church in Frankfurt gathered in prayer on May 10. Less than two weeks — or one incubation period — later, members of the church are now infected with the coronavirus, the German press agency DPA reported.
The exact number of those sickened is unclear, but the deputy chairman of the local congregation, Wladimir Pritzkau, told DPA that six people are currently hospitalized, while the majority of attendees who tested positive are isolating at home. The church is now holding services exclusively online.
German authorities are investigating another possible cluster of seven infections that reportedly emerged from a restaurant in the country’s northwest. Restaurants in Germany reopened two weeks ago with social distancing and contact tracing measures in place. If confirmed, this would be the first such case of the virus spreading inside a newly reopened restaurant, the Associated Press reported.
President Trump has urged businesses and houses of worship in the United States to reopen, labeling the latter as “essential” in a move seen as mindful of his evangelical Christian voting base.
On Saturday a French court struck down the government’s ban on places of worship opening before June 2, after stores and businesses were allowed to reopen last week. Religious leaders said it would take some time for them to put in place required social distancing precautions.
In Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected, is set to reopen Sunday after shutting in March.