The Belarusian public health authorities have removed the quarantine restrictions imposed on the Convent in connection with the сoronavirus epidemic. Of 130 monastic sisters, about 60 had been diagnosed with the infection. Of these sixty, forty developed pneumonia. Today, almost all the people at the monastery have fully recovered, and only a few of the sisters are still remaining in hospital.
The lifting of the quarantine is good news and a great relief for everyone concerned. Many parishioners have been in touch with the Convent throughout the quarantine via the social media and online, and most wrote how much they missed the worship services. Worship at the Convent never stopped during the quarantine, and many of the services were broadcast online. Worshipers can now come to church and attend the services in person. “They missed us, and we missed them, too,” says Mother Maria Yakovleva, a nun at St. Elisabeth Convent.
The reopening of the Convent is also good news to more than 1,500 people who work at its workshops. There are about 30 active workshops, including the crushed stone, stained glass, icon painting, bookbinding, and audiovisual, among others. All of them had to suspend their work during the closure, and nearly all of their workers were laid off temporarily. They can now return to their jobs and support their families.
Having reopened its doors, the Convent has continued to take precautions against the spread of the infection. Worshipers are no longer offered water from a shared cup after the Holy Communion. Loudspeakers have been put up so that worshipers can attend the services outside and maintain a safe distance. Worshipers who cannot attend the services in person can still access live webcasts available through the Convent’s web site.
How has life at the Convent changed in light of the epidemic, and how is everyone coping? We went out and interviewed the people involved.