Papal basilicas are considering checking visitors’ temperatures as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus when public Masses resume, the Holy See press office said on Thursday.
Representatives of the four major Roman basilicas – St Peter’s, St Mary Major, St John Lateran and St Paul Outside the Walls – met on May 14 under the auspices of the Vatican Secretariat of State, the press office said.
They discussed which protocols to adopt in light of the “second phase” of Italy’s lockdown, when public liturgies will be permitted again from May 18 under strict conditions.
Churches in Italy will be required to limit the number of people present – ensuring a one-meter (three feet) distance – and congregants must wear face masks. The church must also be cleaned and disinfected between celebrations.
While St Peter’s is situated in Vatican City, the three other major basilicas are located within Italy but have extraterritorial status under the terms of the Lateran Treaty of 1929, which means they are properties of the Holy See, itself a sovereign body in international law.
The press office statement said that officials talked about “the need to adopt the most appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of the faithful”, including taking the temperatures of visitors, at least during Sunday Masses and on other holy days of obligation.
Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told CNA that each basilica would adopt measures that reflected their “specific characteristics.”
He said: “For St Peter’s Basilica, in particular, the Vatican Gendarmerie will provide for access restrictions in close collaboration with the Inspectorate for Public Security and will facilitate safe entry with the assistance of volunteers from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.”