For the first time, Christmas night services and New Year's eve mass will be celebrated before 10 pm by all churches of the Christain community. This change of timings has been introduced by churches in adherence to the night curfew imposed from December 22, 2020 to January 5, 2021 from 11 pm to 6 am by the Maharashtra state government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 infection.
Till now, Christmas services on December 24 were celebrated with a midnight mass starting post 10 pm or at 12 am every year in all churches. The same drill was followed on December 31 every year where people of the Christian community would go to church for New Year's eve mass post 8 pm or 10 pm.
But this year, churches of the city said they will wrap up all Christmas mass services before 10 pm. Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, parish priest of St Peter's Church, Bandra west said, "We have scheduled two Christmas masses at 7 pm and 9 pm on December 24. The New Year mass will be earlier at 8 pm so that we can complete the services latest by 10 pm following the night curfew restrictions imposed by the state."
In addition, this year, people of the Christain community will be allowed to attend Christmas mass only by invitation and registration. Ornelius Saldanha, a youth leader of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (IC) Church, Borivali west said, "People who wish to attend mass need to register and collect a coupon to attend Christmas and New Year mass. People can register with zonal leaders in their respective sectors based on the area where they reside and collect their coupons."
Fr Mascarenhas said, "We have asked people to register and have sent invitations accordingly for Christmas and New Year mass. In this way, we will have a limited number of people who willl attend mass and avoid overcrowding. Also, we have recommended those above 65 years and below 10 years not to come to church as a precautionary measure."
All standard operating procedures (SOPs) and social distancing measures related to Covid-19 pandemic will be followed by churches of Mumbai, said Fr Nigel Barrett, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay. Fr Barrett said, "All Christmas and New Year mass services will be ending before 10 pm in all churches of Mumbai. All Covid-19 related SOPs and distancing measures will be followed by churches."
On December 21, the Maharashtra state government imposed a night curfew from 11 pm to 6 am starting from December 22, 2020 to January 5, 2021 for Mumbai and all municipal corporation areas in the state in view of the mutated strain of coronavirus emerged in the United Kingdom (UK