After nearly four months of closure, Goa’s Churches will soon open for prayer services, with the state’s Archbishop laying down strict guidelines for re-opening of individual church premises.
According to an advisory issued by the Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao, churches located Covid-19 containment zones or buffer zones, will not be allowed to open for safety reasons.
The circular issued by the Goa Church has laid down a series of cautionary steps which local parish priests are directed to follow before opening up of the Church premises for religious services. According to the advisory issued by the Archbishop, visitors to the Church would only be allowed to enter after undergoing examination with a contactless thermometer.
“Hand sanitizers should be available for the use of the faithful. Holy water stoups or fonts are kept dry,” the advisory states.
Priests have also been directed to appoint volunteers to ensure that social distancing norms and hygiene standards are maintained in the Church premises.
“The priest in charge is to make sure that thorough cleanliness and disinfection of the sacred place and of the surrounding premises have been carried out and can be assured to be undertaken regularly. The place of worship is well ventilated.The seating arrangement with physical distancing of six feet is marked out,” the advisory also states.
Individual parish priests have also been asked to petition the state Diocesan Society in writing, after putting proper infrastructure in place.
“On receipt of the petition, 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/chapel/shrine can in fact comply with all the requirements,” the advisory states.
Catholics account for nearly 26 per cent of the state’s population of 1.5 million.