COVID-19: Goa moves to cut down mass gatherings

COVID-19: Goa government moves to cut down mass gatherings, extends closure of public spaces

Passengers wearing facemasks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, stand in a queue at a counter inside the airport in Goa. AFP

Even as the Goa Church advised Catholics not to attend Sunday mass and other services in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Goa government on Thursday extended closure of public spaces to bring pubs, malls and weekly markets under the ambit of the ban.

Goa’s leading travel and tourism stakeholders body, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa has also warned of a Rs 1,000 crore loss to the state on account of the COVID-19 pandemic and said, that the setbacks to the industry on account of the global viral disease would result in the loss of nearly 70,000 jobs.

Fr. Filipe Neri Ferrao, the Archbishop of Goa in his circular on Thursday, has urged the clergy to use technology to stream religious service, in order to dissuade Catholics from attending Church services, especially on Sunday, as a preventive measure against COVID-19.

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“The Faithful are dispensed from the obligation of participating in the Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. In order to prevent community transmission of the virus, the Faithful are advised not to go for daily Mass, unless it is strictly necessary,” Fr. Ferrao said.

“Wherever possible, the celebration of the Mass is to be live-streamed or recorded and then broadcast, either by the respective parish or through the local electronic media,” the circular also said. Catholics account for 25 per cent of Goa’s 1.5 million population.

With the virus spreading and deepening its footprint across India, the Goa government’s Directorate of Health Services also directed the closure of pubs, malls, weekly markets and coaching classes till March 31.

An order was issued by the Goa’s Director of Health Services Dr. Jose A. O. D’Sa and would come into effect from midnight on March 20 and would be enforced till March 31.

With tourism footfalls dipping, Goa’s travel and tourism industry stakeholders have warned of an economic downturn and job losses in Goa and have urged support to the government to enforce a border lockdown of the state.

“The COVID-19 virus will cost the state tourism industry approximately Rs 1,000 crore in loss. This will result in severe job losses to about 60,000-75,000 people unless remedial measures are taken,” the statement also said.

“Should the government think that it is best to lock down its borders, by shutting down the inter state borders and airports temporarily, we will support the government in this decision after giving guests in the state adequate time to leave the state,” the statement issued by the stakeholders said.

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