Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao on Wednesday said churches will be allowed to reopen if the concerned authorities comply with all the safety protocols in view of COVID-19 outbreak.
The Archbishop announced stringent rules while rolling out a formal protocol for the re-opening of Churches in the state.
"On receipt of a petition, the Diocesan Authority will send a 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 Archbishop stated in an advisory.
As per the protocol, churches situated in containment or buffer zones in the state will not be allowed to open.
Moreover, the priest in charge has 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 and the place of worship is well ventilated; volunteers/ushers are adequately instructed and prepared to assist the Faithful,
The Archbishop has asked authorities to ensure that the seating arrangement with the physical distancing of six feet is marked out; hymnals and other books/leaflets are removed from the place of worship; holy water stoups/fonts are kept dry; there is a display of signage, clearly indicating: the obligation of wearing face masks; the position of distinct entry and exit points; the necessity of maintaining a physical distance of six feet with others, at all times; hand sanitisers are available for the use of the Faithful and a contactless thermometer is in place to check the body temperature of those who enter.
The coordinating team, under the chairmanship of the priest, should make the necessary arrangements in the light of the directives of the church and of the civil authorities, to facilitate the process of the gradual opening of the place of worship and monitor the implementation of all the guidelines, he added.
The state government had allowed reopening of religious places on June 8. However, several religious places, including churches, remained closed for visitors fearing a surge in coronavirus cases. (ANI)