KUCHING: Christians are now able to celebrate the coming Holy Week in churches since the transition to the endemic phase on April 1.
Catholic Archbishop Simon Poh said the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) had acknowledged the high compliance of churches and houses of worship throughout the pandemic period.
“All churches are committed to complying with the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued as of April 1.
“We need to be even more vigilant during the coming Good Friday and Easter masses and services and be prepared for maximum capacity as allowed by Unifor,” he said in a statement on Thursday (April 14).
Archbishop Poh also said he was confident that everyone coming to church was aware of the need to wear masks and maintain physical distance.
He urged churches to reinforce safety practices by maintaining physical distancing during full capacity.
“In some church buildings with large corridors, foyers or porches, additional chairs can be set up with physical distancing to accommodate more churchgoers.
“This will definitely help with increasing the capacity for Holy Week while ensuring safety for everyone.
“We trust that our churchgoers will naturally keep these safety habits as part of our Christian social responsibility for the common good of society and that churches do not contribute to any new clusters in the community.
“And thus to ensure that churches are a safe environment for worship for Good Friday, Easter and every Sunday, all our churches will maintain physical distancing, wearing of face masks, use of sanitisers, scanning of MySejahtera as our safety SOP during worship in churches.”
Archbishop Poh noted that it was a full celebration during Palm Sunday recently and indicated that on Good Friday, there would be more congregation coming to churches.
“This has been the situation even before the pandemic, when I estimated that around 5,000 churchgoers would congregate, packed shoulder to shoulder in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Kuching, with the majority of them filling up the church compound, under the canopies, trees and others.
“This would not be possible this year with the current Covid-19 situation with safety SOP like physical distancing in place.”
He also assured that churches would continue to provide live stream for masses to cater to a group of people who are not able to come to church to worship and asked churchgoers to check with their respective churches for the schedule of live-streaming services and masses.
“I have received words of gratitude from those who are bedridden from illness or are under treatment like chemotherapy, dialysis or recovering from stroke as they can not follow the Sunday masses or services.
“I have not forgotten these people who still desire to pray and worship, especially during this Good Friday and Easter.”
He also advised churchgoers to follow the SOP for registration and admission to respective churches and refrain from going to church if found to exhibit symptoms like coughing, fever or flu.