An archdiocese of Catholic Church in Kerala on Sunday said churches under it would not offer services till June 30 despite the state government giving permission for reopening of the places of worship, easing the COVID-19 lockdown curbs in accordance with the Centre's guidelines.
Although masses and other services would not be carried out, the churches can, however, be opened for the faithful to go and say individual prayers, the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese under the Syro-Malabar Church said in a statement. This decision has been taken in view of spread of novel coronavirus in the areas under its jurisdiction, it said.
However, other dioceses under the Syro-Malabar Church and other denominations in Kerala are yet to decide on opening the churches, which have remained shut for the faithful since the national lockdown began in March.
Archbishop Antony Kariyil, the Metropolitan Vicar of the Ernakulam Angamaly Major Archdiocese, said he arrived at the decision not to restart religious services in churches under the archdiocese after holding discussions with vicars of various foranes and members of the decision-making committee.
The statement said 50 people are allowed to attend marriages being held in churches, while 20 would be permitted to attend funerals in accordance with the guidelines issued by the government.
The Kerala government on Friday had decided to allow functioning of malls, restaurants and places of worship, including the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple, from June 9, but made it clear that the elderly and children will have to stay away from such places.
The Centre had on May 30 issued a notification on easing of restrictions at religious places, shopping malls, restaurants and at public offices from June 8.
Kerala government has said the maximum number of people inside a place of worship will be decided as per its size. "Only 15 people per 100 square metre, maintaining a six feet distance between each other, can be allowed but must restrict to a maximum of 100 people at a time in the premises," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.
Kerala's COVID-19 new positive cases have touched three digits on Friday and Saturday with the state recording 111 and 108 new infections on the two days respectively, prompting the government to term the situation as 'grim'.