Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], November 29 (ANI): Several churches in Mumbai opened for the public on Sunday after about nine months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Church-goers in the city who attended mass on the first day of the advent before Christmas said that government-prescribed guidelines were being followed and they were glad to attend church after a long break.
"It is a great privilege and honour to be able to attend church again and worship after so many months. It is the first day of the advent before Christmas and I am grateful to the state government for allowing us to come to church," said Sheldon, a church-goer at St Michael's Church, who incidentally got married exactly five years ago in the same church.
He added that church authorities had taken measures to check temperatures before entering the church and seating arrangements had been made to ensure the following of social distancing norms.
Another devotee, Anne who visited Mount Mary's Church in Bandra, said that since there were limited seats available, one had to make an appointment with the church authorities before attending.
"I feel very free and happy to worship in church after so long. The parish has made proper arrangements to maintain social distancing. All precautions have been put in place. There are limited seats so we have to inform the church before-hand if we want to come. Once the seats are fully occupied no one is allowed," she said.
Although the Maharashtra government had allowed religious places to reopen from November 16, churches in Mumbai remained shut for the public and only private prayers were allowed inside the church premises.
All religious places of worship had been closed in the nationwide lockdown on March 25 as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many as 5,544 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Maharashtra in the last 24 hours, including 940 in Mumbai, taking the total number of cases in the state to 18,20,059. The total count includes 90,997 active cases, 16,80,926 recoveries and 47,071 deaths. (ANI)