Slowly, Rome is opening back up!!
It has been a surreal experience for those living in Rome these past few months: no throngs of tourists, no lines to get in to Saint Peter’s or the Vatican Museums, no public Masses….something most of us never thought we would see. Fortunately, the city has begun to relax its restrictions, which is good news for those who live there….but also for those who wish to visit “The Eternal City”.
Public Masses: The Italian government had banned attendance at Masses in early March, part of its prohibition on gatherings as it sought to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Most of Italy’s churches have remained open during the pandemic, but only for individual prayer. Public Masses can resume on May 18, but under strict conditions outlined in a protocol signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian Bishops Conference.
Each pastor will determine the maximum number of people who can fit in a church while staying at least a 3 feet apart.
If necessary, additional Masses can be held, rather than allowing more people into the church for one service, the protocol says.
The faithful will have to wear masks in church. Priests can celebrate most of the Mass without masks but they will have to wear one, as well as gloves, when they distribute Holy Communion.
For now, choirs are not allowed and holy water fonts will remain dry.
The Vatican Museums: The Vatican Museums, which have been closed since March 9, will soon be reopened to the public, while following the safety guidelines prescribed by Italian and Vatican health officials. They will be accessible only by reservation, and no large groups will be admitted at this time..
The museum is installing thermoscanners for temperature readings of all visitors, so obviously your temperature will have to be normal.
It’s not ideal, but at least it is a step in the right direction, and it is welcome news to those who plan to travel to Rome this summer and fall……and welcome news for the tour companies that will take them there.