I am copying only part of an interesting article from the Catholic Herald (for size). It’s about the situation in the UK but also applies outside the UK I think, in terms of arguments for and against churches opening.
Feel free to check out the whole thing, but you need to subscribe to the site in order to read it (hence why I copied the most interesting parts, in my view, here). To clarify, I’m not ‘stealing it’ as subscription is free and gives you four free articles to read per month. If you want more, then you have to pay.
Dr Eli Perencevich, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, who co-authored an article on the need to suspend religious gatherings during the pandemic, offers us some explanation for why church reopenings are being left until the third and final stage of deconfinement: “churches are just a unique situation, where they’re indoors and people sit right next to each other for extended periods and the old and young are together”. For Dr Perencevich, it is this “intergenerational mixing that makes it a particularly high-risk situation.” This is because infected children, who are often asymptomatic carriers, “can spread the virus and have close contact with older churchgoers, who then would catch the virus and have really high morbidity and mortality.” He adds, sympathetically, that his own diocese justified extending its church closures on the grounds that its priests typically fall into this older, higher-risk demographic.
The other acute transmission risks he cites surround church practices: receiving Communion, collecting the offertory, singing together, shaking hands at the sign of peace and dipping hands into holy water fonts. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has recently described how, through “a routine of supervision, a routine of social distancing, a routine of cleansing”, churches could potentially reopen for personal prayer whilst suspending these higher-risk practices. Dr Perencevich agrees that this could present a “far lower risk” than regular church services but, even here, he advises a policy of churchgoers wearing face visors or masks to reduce transmission, given the poor ventilation typical of churches. He also adds that such limited access to churches would still not entirely resolve the problem of the old and young mixing in the same space for extended periods, an issue he does not think applies so readily to the DIY stores and golf courses that have already begun to reopen.