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Flashback: Acolytes walk up the isle at the start of the Ole Year’s Night Mass at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church in San Fernando.

Strict COVID-19 protocols will be observed as churches host virtual and in-person services on Old Year’s and New Year’s Day. This was confirmed by ministers of the Roman Catholic religion and Presbyterian Churches yesterday.

In an interview with Guardian Media, Father Martin Sirju said, “We will strictly follow the protocols. All our churches will have sanitisers, temperature testing equipment, contact-tracing book, our choir will observe social distancing and sing with their masks on. All the protocols that are recommending, we will follow them. Our pews are arranged in such a way that you do not have people sitting one behind the other so there is some distance at the side of people when they are sitting, and also behind and in front them.”

He said Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon would be attending Old Year’s Mass at 7 pm at the Cathedral while on New Year’s Day mass would be held at 9 am. While the Sacred Heart Church was closed for repairs, Father Sirju said they are reopening even though the repairs were not completed because people are looking forward to going back to mass.

“We will worship and continue refurbishment at the same time. The Archbishop will be there at that mass at 11 am at Richmond Street to do a simple blessing for the reopening of that church.”

Reverend Joy Abdul-Richards, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (PCTT), said while they are looking forward to the New Year’s service, they would be held under strict health protocols.

“We are live streaming for those who are still fearful of returning to church and for those who are coming we are of course ensuring that all health protocols are in place, just like Christmas Day.”

She said on Sunday they would celebrate Epiphany and also on January 6, 2022 they would be celebrating 154 years as a Presbyterian church. In keeping with the public health regulations, churches are allowed a 50 per cent seating capacity.