Despite a decrease in new cases, it is still not a time to relax, warns Archbishop Thomas Chung An-zu of Taipei
Immaculate Conception Cathedral Church in Taipei, Taiwan. Churches in Taipei Archdiocese resumed Sunday and weekday Masses from July 27 following relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions. (Photo: Comunidad Hispana Catolica Taiwan Facebook page)
Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of Taipei have resumed Sunday and weekday Masses with limited numbers of faithful as Taiwan relaxes Covid-19 restrictions.
The prelate, however, warned that the resumption of Masses should not be taken as a signal for relaxing health safety as the virus continues to rage globally.
“The situation of the epidemic has slightly relaxed in Taiwan. The Central Epidemic Command Center will lower the epidemic alert to Level 2 from July 27 to August 9. However, as the [Delta] variant virus continues raging internationally, we still should not relax,” read the announcement dated July 23.
The notice instructed that the number of persons (including staff) at Mass in each parish should be limited to 50 for indoor services and 100 for outdoor services. Parishes with large numbers of faithful have been asked to increase the number of Masses or change to outdoor services.
All Massgoers are asked to strictly follow government rules and implement preventive epidemic measures before entering churches, such as registering names and contacts, using masks, measuring body temperature and washing hands with alcoholic disinfectants.
Priests and Eucharistic ministers must clean their hands with alcoholic disinfectants before distributing the Eucharist
During Mass, there must be a 1.5-meter distance between people and the church must ensure good ventilation.
The notice also recommended that Mass offerings can be collected after the faithful receive communion in order to reduce chances of contamination by hands.
Priests and Eucharistic ministers must clean their hands with alcoholic disinfectants before distributing the Eucharist.
Taiwan has been relatively successful in tackling Covid-19 and registered only about 1,400 cases and 14 deaths until May this year. The success allowed the population to become accustomed to normal life without restrictions and lockdowns.
However, the country has seen a sudden spike in cases, prompting the government to impose new curbs including restrictions on public gatherings and movements. The government has faced criticism for a sluggish vaccination drive in the nation of 24 million.
Consequently, churches in Taiwan closed doors in mid-May once again. Last year churches were closed for two months and reopened in May following the first outbreak of coronavirus.
Thanks to the curbs, new cases have continued to decrease in recent weeks.
On July 29, the Central Epidemic Command Center reported 16 new cases, slightly lower than the 18 the previous day.
Taiwan has registered 15,662 cases and 787 deaths from the pandemic, according to worldometers.info. About 1.3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, local media reported.
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