Churches told to limit congregations to 30 and ban singing after weekend outcry


Churches have been told to limit the number of worshippers to 30, hold services online as much as possible and ban singing to conform with new coronavirus restrictions.

The message from justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus follows the uproar over the weekend surrounding the Bible belt village of Staphorst, Overijssel, where the local Protestant church held three services for up to 600 people.

Face masks were discouraged because they muffled the sound of the congregation singing. The decision was defended on Sunday by the village’s mayor, Gerrit Jan Kok, who told RTL Nieuws: ‘If you look at the church and the church services today, everything was within the rules.’

Grapperhaus admitted he had no powers to intervene in church services, but said the limits on public gatherings applied to all organisations, including churches.

‘We are reverting to the agreements we made in March with the branch organisations,’ he said. ‘Everyone is making sacrifices and that includes church organisations.

‘As a government we cannot step inside church buildings, that is a very old constitutional right. But I expect everyone to play their part.’

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