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Mauritius’ Port Louis Diocese Outlines Safety Guidelines for Resumption of Public Worship

St. Louis Cathedral in the Diocese of Port Louis, Mauritius/ Credit: Diocese of Port Louis/Facebook

Days after the Government of Mauritius lifted restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Port Louis has announced the resumption of public worship with a limited number of faithful.

The directives that include a raft of measures aimed at containing the possible spread of the coronavirus range from hygiene, the time between Eucharistic celebrations and the handling of offerings, among others.

In the Monday, June 28 statement, Maurice Cardinal Piat of Port Louis Diocese directs that members of the Clergy “follow the instructions in order to respect the maximum number of 50 people in the Church.”

“Parishioners are invited to register with the parish office to attend one of the Sunday Masses. In order to allocate places, the 'first come first serve' principle should be applied. If there is no place available, the secretary will suggest another Mass,” Cardinal Piat directs. 

He adds that the secretary “shall keep a list of those who have come to each Mass, and pass it on to the reception service and keep it, in case of tracing contact.”

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In order to enable as many parishioners as possible to participate in Holy Mass on Sunday, the member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) recommends that those who would have already attended Holy Mass “make room for other parishioners.”

“Each Parish is invited to give priority to welcoming people while maintaining the essential control to respect the instructions of the state authorities,” Cardinal Piat further directs.

“It would be good to continue to broadcast one or more of the Masses online, so that parishioners who were unable to attend the service physically can follow a celebration,” he further says in his June 28 statement.

In the Indian Ocean country, places of worship have been closed since March 11 when the government imposed a two-week national lockdown following an upsurge in reported cases of COVID-19.

While the curfew was eased on March 25, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth-led government directed that gathering, including religious ones, be limited to five people starting April 1.

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Following the March 25 directives, the leadership of Port Louis Diocese extended the suspension of public worship and directed that Holy Week celebrations be broadcast on social media.

In a televised address June 24, Mauritius’ Prime Minister announced modalities for the reopening of the Indian Ocean Island nation from Thursday, July 1.

The government permitted social gatherings and public events such as congregational worship, but limited them to people.

Prime Minister Jugnauth stressed that these activities take place in strict compliance with health protocols and measures.

Mauritius, a country of 1.2 million people, has recorded at least 1,833 COVID-19 cases, 1,411 recoveries and 18 related deaths.

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In his June 28 statement, Cardinal Piat says, “For parishes where more than 50 faithful attend Mass on weekdays, the same registration procedure is recommended.”

“Until further notice, 50 people will be admitted to weddings and funerals,” the Cardinal further directs and adds, “The same measures apply to the preparation and celebration of baptisms.”

For catechesis, the Catholic Church leader says, “it is possible to have meetings of parents and/or children within the 50-person limit.”

“Parishes have also been asked to ensure that health security measures are applied (taking temperature, wearing masks, sanitizing at the entrance, social distancing),” the Cardinal directs in his June 28 statement.