By Vatican News
After two months of live-streamed Masses and private prayer at home, the faithful in Italy will once again be able to attend religious ceremonies in churches around the country.
The news came on Thursday, 7 May with the signing of a Protocol, by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorghese.
The protocol outlines rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure minimal risk of contagion of the coronavirus.
All religious ceremonies – Masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals – were either cancelled or closed to the public in early March when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19, a virus that has now killed almost 30,000 people in Italy alone.
As Italy enters “phase 2” of its coronavirus lockdown, the government is working together with the Italian Bishops to prudently ensure that the faithful can attend ceremonies in churches again.
Cardinal Bassetti, reiterated the Church's commitment to overcoming the current crisis by saying "the Protocol is the result of profound collaboration and synergy between the Government… and the Italian Bishops’ Conference, where everyone has played their part responsibly”.
The protocol outlines that the faithful must wear facemasks, and must respect the 1m safety distance between each other.
All rooms and objects used will be sanitised at the end of each ceremony, and the sign of peace will be omitted.
For the rites of Communion, the celebrant is required to sanitize his hands and must use gloves and a mask.
These measures, said Prime Minister Conte, express the most appropriate ways to ensure that the resumption of liturgical celebrations with the people takes place in the safest way possible.