06/08/2020, 12.45
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Despite many conditions, the churches in China reopen

by Grazia Teresa Xiao

Since yesterday, churches have been open in most provinces. Due to the epidemic, they had been closed in January. Strict control measures: QR code on health status; temperature measurements; social distancing; no photos, or gatherings; ensure ventilation and sanitation. Liturgical clothes should be washed during the day and dried in the sun. In some provinces, churches are closed because the epidemic is still ongoing.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - Yesterday, June 7, Trinity Sunday, was the first Sunday when churches in China were reopened in most provinces. They had been closed for 4 months because of Covid-19.

Shaanxi was the first province: it already opened churches on May 30 last, celebrating Pentecost, the Church's birthday. Later, one province after another, churches reopened in Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Shanxi, Sichuan, Hebei, etc.

The government released the opening permit document from June 2. The opening of churches must respond to the concerns of the provincial government, implementing all of the directives according to three principles: "territorial management, orderly control, timely responsibility".

In turn, following government orders, the churches prepared to take precautionary measures against the epidemic situation: by setting up emergency leadership groups in each church; outbreak prevention groups; security and logistics groups.

The faithful are asked to cooperate following various requirements: when they come to church, they must present a code indicating their health status on their cell phone[i]; measure body temperature and wear a mask; keep a meter away between people; take communion in hand; after the mass leave the church, without staying or being together; do not whisper or walk in church; taking pictures is prohibited; churches must keep the building ventilated, opening doors and windows. People with body temperatures above 37.2 ° C and respiratory tract infections are prohibited from entering the church; those who have just returned from the main epidemic areas or abroad can enter it only after 14 days.

Strict rules also for government staff: if they come to church, they must contact in advance and book; when they arrive, they must present the relevant certificates.

From June 2, each community has organized the cleaning and sanitization of the parish building; the vestments for the liturgical celebrations are washed during the day and dried in the sun. On Sunday, to reduce the massive presence of the faithful, 3 or more masses are celebrated. During the week there is mass every morning, where however the participants are few.

During the months of quarantine, the faithful remained without the Eucharist. Some of them confess that after a long time “they long to attend Mass. Without this, it was a little empty. "

During the closure, thanks to Wechat and the internet, almost all priests and nuns maintained relationships with the faithful with a variety of catechism courses or to broadcast Mass. The faithful appreciated these opportunities for study and personal prayer.

The isolation of many parts of China, starting with Wuhan (Hubei), the epicenter of the pandemic, began on January 23. Wuhan was reopened on April 8, just before Easter. However, the churches have remained closed until this week. Unfortunately, in some areas of Hubei and the northeast, churches are still closed. In the provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, Helongjiang, the epidemic has not yet stopped.

[i] In China, during the pandemic, the use of a QR code on the state of health of the person - established by the state - with an app made available by Alibaba, the online sales giant. The codes are three: green, yellow, red.


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