Updated: August 17, 2021 07:01 AM GMT
A priest celebrates Mass in a church in Macau. (Photo: Jornal-O-Clarim)
Churches in Macau will reopen from Aug. 18 after a closure of about two weeks after a family tested positive for the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus this month.
“All churches and Mass centers in the diocese will resume public Masses, liturgies and gatherings. Personnel in charge of religious houses and old age homes may allow the faithful to join their in-house liturgy as appropriate,” stated an official circular from Father Cyril Jerome Law, chancellor of Macau Diocese, on Aug. 16.
Weekday and Sunday live Mass broadcasts will continue temporarily or may be adjusted or canceled as necessary, the notice added.
Churches and other places of worship closed their doors after authorities in the former Portuguese colony ordered precautionary steps after a family of four tested positive for the Delta variant in early August.
Worship places were closed last year when the first wave of the pandemic hit the island with the first reported case on Jan. 22. Life got back to normal in late March after authorities lifted the restrictions.
From Aug. 5, for the second time since last year, life in the casino-cum-resort city came to a standstill as businesses closed down. The government launched a mass testing campaign for about 700,000 residents by setting up 42 nucleic acid testing centers across the city.
The decision to allow these facilities to resume operations takes into consideration the improvement in the epidemic situation
The two-week break for recreational businesses has dealt a further blow to the economy, which largely relies on gambling and tourism, Bloomberg reported.
In a statement on Aug. 16, the government declared the reopening of casinos and other venues including theaters, indoor amusement parks, game arcades, beauty salons, karaoke parlors and nightclubs from Aug. 18.
“The decision to allow these facilities to resume operations takes into consideration the improvement in the epidemic situation,” authorities said, adding that it “is aimed at supporting a gradual resumption of normal economic activities and normal life in the city,” according to Bloomberg.
Macau has recorded 63 cases but no deaths from the coronavirus so far, according to government data.
A gambling and gaming hub, Macau is a special administrative region of China that was under Portuguese rule from 1557 to 1999. With a population of about 21,000 per square kilometer on the 33 square kilometer island, Macau is one of the world’s most densely populated places.
Macau Diocese, which covers the entire island, has about 30,000 Catholics in nine parishes.