BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Omicron variant and the latest surge in COVID cases has affected just about everything, from holiday travel to school winter breaks to hospital shortages.

And now that Christmas is here, it is also affecting church services.

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Hampden United Methodist Church held its second Christmas Eve service Friday night. This is one of many churches whose doors were closed for the holidays last year, but now because of safety protocols like masks and vaccinations, they feel like they now can come together as a church community.

But now because of safety protocols like masks and social distancing, they feel like they now can come together as a church community.

“As long as people are following those protocols, we are making space for people to come together,” Pastor Galen Zook said.

Zook opened his church for in-person services this year after they were virtual last year, feeling like they can welcome back parishioners as long as they follow city guidelines.

“This year, we’re just encouraging people to do whatever they’re comfortable,” he said.

In a tweet Friday, the Archdiocese of Baltimore encouraged their congregations to wear masks at Christmas service even if it’s not required and if someone isn’t feeling well to stay home.

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Parishioner Christina Spikloser attended tonight’s service with her daughter.

“This year, we’re more prepared than we were last year. We know how to social distance. We have our pews separated out,” she said. “My daughter is more at risk because she has Type Two diabetes.”

But this year, they feel it’s safe enough to celebrate Christmas together.

‘If we can be together safely, we’re going to be together safely. If we didn’t feel like it was safe, we would be at home worshipping online like we did in the beginning,” Spikloser said.

The historic Saint James Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square is canceling its Christmas service. They say because they can’t open their windows and keep their doors open so to ensure their parishioners’ safety, they are closing through the holiday weekend.

The Washington National Cathedral did the same in DC, but it won’t reopen until Jan. 9.

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Annie Rose Ramos