Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced that places of worship count as “essential services” making them exempt from confinement orders.
Under the decree, “religious activities of any kind” are classed alongside supermarkets and pharmacies.
Most places of worship in the country have already closed.
The governor of Sao Paulo recommended places of worship shut for 60 days.
Some evangelical leaders have welcomed Mr Bolsonaro’s decision.
Silas Malafaia, head of one of the country’s largest pentecostal churches, the Assembly of God, said: “In this pandemic of panic, no hospital can calm people down, but religion can.”
Just 10 days ago, Mr Bolsonaro was criticised for holding a rally during the outbreak. He was pictured shaking hands and taking selfies with supporters.
Cases of coronavirus have risen in Brazil with the figure currently standing at 2,433 confirmed cases and 57 deaths.