Photos: Catholic church in Abu Dhabi prepares to reopen on July 20
To manage the expected rush of faithful, an online platform to book appointments for service will be launched.
A catholic church in Abu Dhabi will reopen from Monday, July 20.
St Joseph's Cathedral, the seat of the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, is getting ready to welcome the faithful after months of closure with Covid-19 precautionary measures, including online appointments for mass, the parish priest said.
Following the guidelines of the Department of Community Development, elaborate arrangements are made to ensure safety and well-being of everyone.
The three facilities inside the premises: St Joseph's Cathedral, St Therese Church and the parish hall will have only 30 per cent occupancy, which will be 80 people per service. An average 15,000 faithful visit the church on weekends spread over 15 services but the number will be now down to 3,500.
To manage the expected rush of faithful, an online platform to book appointments for service will be launched, Parish Priest Father Johnson Kadukanmakal said.
"They will need to register with their name, Emirates ID, email and phone number. They will be sent details on safety measures to be followed. They can select their choice of service to attend. And 24 hours prior to the service, they will receive a SMS, which they must keep handy while validating their appointment by swiping the Emirates ID in the church."
Children below 12 years and people above 60 not allowed
There are several precautionary measures, including a tent for checkups, put in place.
"We will reopen from 6 am for 6.30 am service on Monday. Senior citizens above 60 years and children below 12 years cannot visit the church. All faithful must compulsorily wear masks and gloves.
They must maintain social distance while waiting in the queue. Once inside the gate, they will pass through a sanitising tunnel, have temperature checked through an automated scanning system inside a tent. Then before entering the church there is another round of temperature check. Emirates ID is scanned to verify the online appointment."
Inside the church every alternate bench will be kept vacant. Markings are made where to sit and stand inside and outside the church. All the priests have been tested for Covid-19. There will be one or two priests on the altar. Holy Communion will be delivered in hand. The online telecast of mass will continue for some 75,000 faithful in Abu Dhabi.
Kadukanmakal noted there will be a two-hour difference between each service.
"The entire facility will be sanitised after every service."
The church will release a video elaborating these steps soon. The other catholic churches will be reopening at a later date.
"We are thankful to the government for their support and trust placed in us to reopen this place safely," Kadukanmakal added.
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