Minnesota governor stresses no large gatherings as Easter, Passover approach

(FOX 9)

Upcoming religious holidays, like Easter and Passover, will look different this year under Minnesota's stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19.

These holy days typically draw out large gatherings at churches and synagogues, which have temporarily closed amid the pandemic. Gov. Tim Walz is encouraging people to celebrate their faith, but to also keep the safety of others in mind.

"Gathering in large numbers in the church, we simply don't want that happening as part of the order," said Walz. "We do want ways we can continue to exercise your religious freedoms in any way you choose that doesn't endanger the safety of others."

That means getting creative. On Easter, Archbishop Bernard Hebda will be holding a virtual mass from The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Temple Israel in Minneapolis already has a list of links for people to join online for the first Seder.

Walz says he is aware of eight incidents across the state where police wrote citations due to large gatherings amid the stay-at-home order. He didn't specify where the incidents took place, or what the nature of the gatherings were. Largely though, Walz says Minnesotans are following the order and he hopes that continues during the upcoming holy days.

"I know the temptation especially around these important holidays," said Walz. "We are trying to work with religious leaders to figure out a way we can make sure they are as meaningful as possible and that we have that sense of fellowship and worship, but without having people put in danger."

Passover is set to start on Wednesday, Easter is on Sunday and Ramadan begins on April 23.