NETHERLANDS: Syriac Orthodox Churches in Enschede closed after new COVID-19 cases

ENSCHEDE, Netherlands – Syriac Orthodox Churches in the city of Enschede have been closed effective immediately for two weeks after new COVID-19 cases were reported among church members of the St Kyriakos church. Church members regularly meet socially in the communal center adjacent to the church building.

The persons who contracted the virus and anybody identified as having direct contact with them were put in quarantine or called upon to be tested. All members of the three churches were informed of the new cases and advised to adhere to strict social distancing measures.

According to regional newspaper Dagblad Tubantia, the local church boards and the city health service decided to close the churches, initially for two weeks, and to stop all activities in the churches as the Syriac community is considered to be a very close community. Avoiding social contacts as much as possible and adhering to social distancing measures are urgently advised.

The Syriac community in the Dutch Region of Twente numbers some 20,000 with concentrations in Enschede, Hengelo, Rijssen and Oldenzaal. There is also a significant Syriac community in Amsterdam and one just across the border with Enschede in Gronau, Germany.

Syriac communal life in Twente is much organized around the Syriac Orthodox monastery, more then ten churches and associated communal centers. There are also various separate social and cultural centers where Syriacs come together.