As Covid-19 cases rise in Goa, churches in no hurry to resume services
Among the requirements that churches will be mandated to put in place before they can apply for permission include arrangements to ensure that people sit at least six feet apart, the place is well ventilated, as well as contactless thermometers, sanitizer dispensers, signages, etc.Updated: Jun 24, 2020 23:26 IST
Two weeks after the central government permitted the reopening of religious places, Church authorities in Goa have announced that they will proceed with a ‘gradual reopening’ with only those places of worship being allowed to open if they can demonstrate that they have put in place measures for social distancing.
According to a circular sent by the Archbishop of Goa, each priest in charge of a church will have to write seeking special permission to restart services after he is satisfied that he is able to meet with the requirements of the SOPs issued by the Central Government as well as guidelines issued by church authorities.
“The Priest responsible for the place of worship, after careful and deliberate preparation, considers that he is able to meet with the requirements of the SOPs, the Diocesan Authority will send his delegate for an on-site inspection and will grant the requested permission only if he is satisfied that the church or chapel shrine can in fact comply with all the requirements,” the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao said in a circular sent to all priests.
“The places of worship should not be opened before this permission is granted in writing. The time required to comply with the safety protocols may vary from place to place,” he said.
Among the requirements that churches will be mandated to put in place before they can apply for permission include arrangements to ensure that people sit at least six feet apart, the place is well ventilated, as well as contactless thermometers, sanitizer dispensers, signages, etc.
Under Unlock 1 announced by the Centre, places of worship were allowed to open from June 8. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for places of worship to contain the spread of Covid-19.
However, church authorities in Goa chose to defer the opening after a critical evaluation of the situation that arose due to the sudden surge of Covid-19 cases.
Among the guidelines issued, persons above 65 years of age, people with comorbidities and pregnant women and children below 10 years of age, those with symptoms, those having family members under quarantine will not be allowed to participate in services.
“All of us need to realize the seriousness of the present situation and proceed with prudence and discernment, exercising responsibility for our own safety and that of others. Ultimately, however, it will be the personal responsibility of each individual faithful to decide if and when he/she should attend the religious services in the current situation,” the Archbishop said.