Church service
A church service in progress in strict compliance with COVID-19 safety protocol. Image Credit: Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: As Christians across the UAE celebrate Easter on Sunday, priests and church officials reminded the congregants to observe proper health and safety protocol when they attend church services, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fr Nilo Ramos-Resco, MSP, parochial vicar at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Ras Al Khaimah, told Gulf News: “Easter is a time to rejoice and celebrate hope and renewal. But the pandemic has led to a different type of celebration as the world is seeking to contain coronavirus. Even though our religious celebrations of Easter are restricted again this year, our faith is not diminished.”

Fr Nilo Ramos-Resco

Fr Nilo reminded churchgoers to strictly observe health and safety protocol. “Please observe social distancing, always wear face masks, sanitise your hands regularly. Everyone entering the church will go through a sanitation tunnel,” said Fr Nilo, adding: “There are only a limited number of congregants allowed inside. So we have set up LED screens at the church compound, but although it’s outdoors, social distancing must still be observed.”

Padua Church
The St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Ras Al Khaimah. Image Credit: Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Online services

Pre-registration is strictly required at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai, where only 250 people are allowed to enter and attend either the morning (6.30am) or evening (7pm) service. However, there are numerous online services that parishioners can join that are posted on the church website.

All masses at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi until April 4 also require prior booking. Church officials reminded parishioners to book only once to give others a chance to attend at least one service during this period.

Pastor Jim Burgess from Fellowship Church in Jebel Ali told Gulf News: “For the second year in a row, Fellowship Evangelical and other churches will not be able to gather at the beach for our sunrise services. Instead, we will celebrate online and all are welcome to join us.”

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Strict protocol

Churches in Dubai follow the strict protocol set by the Community Development Authority (CDA) to ensure health and safety.

Churchgoers are required to install the Al Hosn app on their mobile phones. Attendees are also required to wear face masks and gloves at all times while at the church premises. Visiting or veneration at the grotto or other areas in the church or church compound before or after the mass are not be permitted. Canteen and toilet facilities are closed and eating and drinking within the church premises are strictly prohibited. Churches are closed after the services.