Religious gathering ban is illegal, says administrative high court

The Conseil d’Etat, France’s administrative high court, has declared that religious gatherings should be allowed to restart in the country, saying the current ban is illegal, disproportionate and an infringement of the freedom of worship.

The court has asked the government to lift the ban on religious celebrations and gatherings at mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious sites.

This decision does not mean necessarily that services will open to the public again but that the government must be more precise with regard to the conditions to the ban and that a blanket ban will not be accepted.

The Conseil d’Etat considers that, as gatherings in public places have been limited to 10 persons, there is no reason to impose a stricter rule on religious buildings.

The decree issued by the government on May 11 to lift the lockdown prohibits all gatherings or meetings in places of worship, with the exception of funeral ceremonies, which are limited to 20 people.

Religious buildings are allowed to remain open, but gatherings are not permitted except for funerals. Religious services are allowed but they must be undertaken without the presence of a congregation and by respecting measures to reduce the risk of infection. Some ceremonies are broadcast live on internet.

The Prime Minister has been given eight days to amend the decree and take measures which are “appropriate” to regulate gatherings and meetings in religious places.

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