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(27 Jul 2020) Mexico City's Roman Catholic churches, including its main cathedral, began celebrating Mass again Sunday after three months of a pandemic lockdown with a "new normal" that seemed to have more rules than faithful in the pews.
"We are filled with joy to be able to receive our faithful and to be with them at this time when it has been so hard for them not to participate in the celebrations," said Salvador Gonzalez Morales, Auxiliary Bishop.
Federal authorities left the decision on whether places of worship could open to state governments and city councils. Mexico now has topped 385,000 confirmed new coronavirus cases and more than 43,000 deaths.
Congregations have already gathered for mass in some parts of Mexico outside the capital with similar sanitary measures in place. In other areas, religious services remain virtual.
The clergy has been hard hit by the pandemic. According to a count by the Catholic Multimedia Center, 46 priests, six deacons and three nuns have died of COVID-19 as of July 15.
Some churches, such as the Evangelical ones in Mexico's capital, decided to wait for the number of infections to go down further before opening, despite official authorization. Mexico's Episcopal Conference said each priest should assess the situation in his parish before resuming services.
Maria Juana Flores said she does not fear COVID-19 because she entrusts herself to God but she also carries her bottle of sanitizing alcohol.
"I felt very happy because I had been wanting to come for a long time and I couldn't," she said. "And now I was very pleased to be able to visit the Blessed Sacrament, to talk to him."
One of five of Mexico's confirmed coronavirus cases has been registered in the capital and Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has threatened to return to a stricter lockdown if a worrying increase in infections continues.
Sheinbaum has said that temples should remain closed in neighborhoods that are still on high alert for infections.
Churches that do open must impose sanitary measures like face masks, that ceremonies not last longer than half an hour and that church occupancy not exceed 20%.
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