Houses of worship across Quebec have been given the green light open for the first time since March when restrictions were put in place due to the novel coronavirus.
And Montrealers were ready for their first Sunday service since lockdown restrictions were eased.
“I was longing for this moment because, for us not being able to come to church during the pandemic, we were missing our spiritual life,” said Emmanual Joseph Fernado, a parishioner at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal.
Security was also present at the cathedral to ensure physical distancing measures were being enforced.
“We have to keep the people at a distance of two metres, being extra careful when we do communion,” pastor Alain Vaillancourt told Global News. “We have to ask the people, like everywhere, to clean their hands when they come in.”
For the final phase of the province’s reopening plan, Quebec public health officials recommend that people wear masks when in stores or other businesses, that everyone maintains a two-metre distance and that max capacity must be cut to at least 50 per cent.
The congregation was happy to see strict measures being in place.
“They were following that efficiently,” Fernado said. “I have confidence in all that they have put in place.”
The pastor says it is a great joy to be open.
“For a long time, people were expecting to come. It’s only the beginning because we are limited and not every church is open for now.”
Because many churches on the island remain closed, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral had to refuse some churchgoers due to the capacity restrictions in place.
“I am just a little sad because today I was here at 8 and I could not enter,” parishioner Lyne Joly said. “Actually, I was here at 7:30 and there was already a lineup of people.”
But she was not discouraged and plans to try again, she said.
“Well, cause it is Sunday, I’m a churchgoer, I go to church often,” Joly said. “I love the cathedral, this is like home to me, so it’s like excluding me from my home.”
Joly added that she is upset because she lives in the Plateau, where she said the bars do not keep social distancing measures in place and the capacity is higher than her church.
“I find unfairness in that — it also makes me angry,” she said. “Two-metres distance is not respect. Therefore, it seems like in bars they can drink and be fed with meals but spiritually we cannot come and be fed, so there is sadness in that.”
Churches across the province will continue to open once they have their safety measures in place.
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