Prayers are answered for some as temples and churches open doors

Top News | Wallis Wang 5 Oct 2020

Religious followers returned to temples and churches to worship over the weekend after the government relaxed social distancing rules.

Religious venues can now accommodate followers up to half of their capacity. Wong Tai Sin Temple opened its doors after closing for two months while Sheng Kung Hui churches also resumed public masses yesterday.

Almost 100 believers queued outside the Taoist temple in Wong Tai Sin before it opened at 7.30am. They had to wear face masks and had their temperatures checked before entering.

They were also required to prostrate within an area marked by red lines to ensure they were 1.5 meters apart from each other.

Only groups with no more than four people could worship together inside the temple. Believers are advised to enter separately if more than four of them visit at the same time.

Due to the pandemic and renovation work in some of the halls in the temple, the Wong Tai Sin Temple has been closed since July 29.

Last Monday, the temple announced it would reopen and operate from 7.30am to 4.30pm every day. But it said all religious activities will remain suspended until further notice.

Believers were able to attend Sunday church services again after a ban on religious gatherings was lifted on Friday.

St John's Cathedral on Garden Road in Central, which is under the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, adopted anti-epidemic measures as public masses started at 8am yesterday.

Believers must wear masks and have their temperature checked before entering the church. They were also required to observe social distancing and cannot sit together during services.

They had to fill in a health declaration form in which they needed to provide their name, phone number, seat number, and the time of the mass to help health authorities track down the spread of the virus if any church member is infected.

But the provincial secretary general of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Reverend Peter Koon Ho-ming, told the media that personal information in the form would not be leaked.

Koon said the health declaration form is only used to track down close contacts of Covid-19 patients if church members get infected.

"We want to clarify that the declaration forms we collect will be destroyed after a while and we will not look at the personal information provided by church members in the form," Koon said.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has resumed public masses as well, while gatherings were seen at the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre.

Religious gatherings - during which no food or drink is served - at places of worship were allowed to resume at half-capacity from October 2.

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