MUSCAT: Amid strict COVID-19 protocols, churches in Oman received their members, for the first time after the breakout of the pandemic, to celebrate Christmas.
Speaking to the Observer, parish priests at different churches said community members intending to attend the services should register online to ensure entry.
“Believers coming to the church should comply with the Covid-19 protocol. Entry will be strictly limited to those who register online”, said Fr Raul Ramos, Parish Priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ruwi.
Permission to open the churches from December 22 was granted by the Ministry of Auqaf and Religious Affairs last week with instruction of strict adherence to the precautionary measures announced by the Supreme Committee tackling the coronavirus situation.
A special online link created in the St Peter and Paul Catholic Church website allows parishioners to register their details. However, children below 12 years and the elderly above 65 years will not be allowed to enter.
“Please arrive at least 30 minutes early for verification of your registration and completion of safety measures prescribed by the authorities. A minimum distance of 1.5 meter is mandatory between individuals”, says a circular uploaded on its website.
Father P O Mathai, parish priest at Mar Gregorios Maha Edavaka, said that a total of 100 persons who have registered online would be allowed to participate in the holy mass to be celebrated on December 25 morning.
“The participants should adhere to the precautionary measures as instructed by the Supreme Committee”, he said.
However, the Christmas eve services will be held virtual for the members with the participation of only the priest and altar assistants, he said.
While wishing a blessed Christmas to all, Fr Mathai said “the birth of Jesus is Christmas and may God bless all”.
Father Mathew K, parish priest at Marthoma Church, Ruwi said that the Christmas services will be held with the virtual participation of the members.
“No decision has yet been taken by the church for Christmas gathering at the parish”, he said.