While America prepares for another COVID Christmas, the omicron variant is creating a whole new set of snarls for those looking to celebrate the season with friends and family.
Several of the world’s top health organizations have been steadily pushing back against the idea of gathering for the holidays, even as omicron’s symptoms remain on the milder side of things. Airlines are gummed up as well, with staffing shortages casting a dark cloud over the usually-busy holiday travel season.
And now, in a move that feels more dismal than most, many churches are being forced to close their doors as well.
Many churches across the U.S. are canceling some or all in-person Christmas services amid yet another surge in COVID cases that have put a damper on people’s holidays for a second year.
Among those churches were Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital; St. John the Divine, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York; and the historic Old South Church in Boston.Trending:
The Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister of Old South, said the church was shifting its popular Christmas Eve service to online-only.
“While we cherish these guests under normal circumstances, these are not normal circumstances. We are prioritizing the health and safety of our volunteers and staff,” Taylor told The Associated Press. “We know how disappointing this is.”
Leaders of Washington National Cathedral said all services would be offered only remotely until Jan. 9, with no worshippers or visitors allowed in the cathedral.
“Given the spike in infections, I simply cannot justify gathering massive crowds as the public health situation worsens around us,” said the cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith.
The news comes as health experts have begun to wonder whether or not omicron is impervious to the use of masks; a possibility that could explain its rapid spread.