Rome, Italy, Mar 12, 2020 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- The vicar general of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, announced Thursday the closure of all churches in the diocese through April 3.
Since March 9 public Masses have been canceled throughout the diocese, but churches had remained open for personal prayer, and some had held Eucharistic adoration or confession.
Starting from the decree's publication March 12, entrance to the parish and other churches of Rome is forbidden to the general public and to lay Catholics.
Cardinal De Donatis said "we remember that this arrangement is for the common good. We welcome the Words of Jesus that tells us 'where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them.'"
"In this time, even more so, our homes are Domestic Churches," he said.
The decree to close Rome's churches followed one day after Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tightened the restrictions of a nationwide lockdown to include the closure of all restaurants, bars, and shops other than supermarkets or other food markets.
The Italy quarantine has been declared through April 3 in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The quarantine restricts movement within Italy and requires people to stay in their homes except for cases of absolute necessity, which may include going to work, to the pharmacy or hospital, or to the supermarket.
In all cases, a distance of one meter must be maintained between people in public. Not following these regulations is punishable by fine or arrest.
According to the World Health Organization, Italy has 12,462 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 827 deaths.
In Rome, Cardinal De Donatis has begun to offer a daily televised evening Mass at the Shrine of the Madonna of Divine Love, on the outskirts of the city.
Other communities in Rome are also offering livestreamed Masses.
At the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and square are closed to the public, but Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, is praying the Angelus and rosary from the basilica every day at noon on live broadcast.
Pope Francis' daily Mass is also being livestreamed from the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives. The Masses are being offered for all those affected by coronavirus.
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