Public Mass celebrations remain suspended in Hong Kong

The suspension of public celebrations of the Holy Mass remains in Hong Kong as cases of the new coronavirus disease continue to rise in the city.

Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong announced the extension of the suspension, until further notice, as authorities imposed new measures to contain the pandemic.

The guidelines issued by the diocese on July 14 will remain in place, said a notice published by the Diocesan Chancery on July 27, reported Vatican News.

The notice said Cardinal Tong made the decision because “the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to deteriorate over the past two weeks.”

The prelate said the government “will probably adopt even more stringent anti-pandemic measures soon.”

The Church’s guidelines include a ban on public Masses on Sundays and weekdays.

Weddings are allowed with a limit of 20 people, and funerals may be held with no restrictions on the number of participants.

Churches and chapels remain open to allow the faithful to stop in for personal prayer or to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

“Social distancing” is, however, to be enforced, face masks must be worn, and body temperature should be checked upon entry into churches.

The guidelines urge Catholics to take part in online Masses, to receive Communion spiritually, to reflect on Sunday readings, and pray the Rosary.

New measures to curb the disease’s spread were expected to take effect on July 29, as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale COVID-19 outbreak.

A man wearing a face mask following the new coronavirus disease outbreak walks out of a restaurant with takeaway food in Hong Kong, July 20. (Photo by Lam Yik/Reuters)

The new regulations ban gatherings of more than two people, close dining in restaurants and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places, including outdoors.

These are the toughest measures introduced in the city since the outbreak.

The government has also tightened testing and quarantine arrangements for sea and air crew members.

The new measures, which will be in place for at least seven days, were announced on July 27 after the global financial hub saw a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past three weeks.

On July 27, Hong Kong reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted.

Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 23 of whom have died.

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