As more states gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions and vaccination programs are underway, Americans are slowly returning to in-person worship services, but attendance on Easter is expected to be lower than pre-pandemic levels.

A Pew Research Center study shows that four-in-ten U.S. Christians (39%) say they plan to attend Easter services in person, lower than the 62% believers who normally attend religious services during the most important holy day in Christianity.

According to the report, “Life in U.S. Religious Congregations Slowly Edges Back Toward Normal,” more than half of Christians (64%) say their congregations are now open and enforce health protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing inside the church, while 17% say their congregation is not open for in-person services. Only 12% of religious attenders claim their congregation is open to the public and operates normally in the same way as before the pandemic hit.

Just four-in-ten U.S. Christians (39%) plan to go in person to church services this Easter Sunday, which is sharply lower than the 62% who say they typically go to church on Easter. —Pew Research Center

Pew notes, “While growing numbers of religious attenders think their congregations should be open, the clear majority continues to say that various modifications and restrictions – such as social distancing, mask-wearing and limiting the number of people who can attend at any one time – are needed to continue the fight against the spread of the virus.”

In the March survey of 12,095 Christians, the majority (58%) supports the church’s precautions to help curb the spread of the deadly-virus, while 26% of respondents want the full opening of their congregations without any restrictions. In terms of precautions, half of Americans reveal that they want their congregations to implement social distancing measures and require attendees to wear masks. Only 29% of respondents favor limits on church singing.

While in-person attendance is rising and more virtual services are now available, findings show that participation in online worship services has decreased. Sixty-five percent of Christians say they watched worship services online or on TV, a smaller share of viewers compared to 72% in the same period last year.

The survey also asked respondents on the effect of the pandemic to their faith. Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults claim their faith has become stronger because of the Coronavirus pandemic, while 4% said their faith has been weakened.

Pew pointed out the findings reflect that, “People who were highly religious to begin with, before the Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., are also the most likely to say their faith has grown because of the pandemic.”