Another Easter Week under COVID-19 restrictions
Due to the pandemic, the ordinary religious acts for these dates had significant variations.
Since March 2, 2020, religious customs for Holy Week have undergone a considerable variation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which, at that time, had only infected one person in the Dominican Republic.
A year after the pandemic and with around 3,200 deaths, the situation has not changed much, because, for this Holy Week, the measures persist, but with a greater circulation of people due to the variation of the curfew that the Executive Power has made, which will be from Good Friday until Easter Sunday, from 7:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning of the following day, according to decree 171-21.
Pastor Geraldo D’Oleo, of the parish of San Juan Bautista de La Salle, pointed out that the meaning of the Holy Week is to live the Paschal Mystery, which is made up of Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, where the washing of the feet takes place.
D’Oleo recalled that, before the arrival of the coronavirus in the country, this mass was held in the morning in the Primada de America Cathedral, where all the priests were invited. These, in turn, renewed their sacrament in front of the bishop too, later in the afternoon, repeat the washing of the feet, and celebrate the beginning of two essential sacraments, that of the Eucharist and that of the priesthood.
While on Good Friday, there was a celebration of words that has two significant events, the veneration of the cross and, after that, the Way of the Cross; the parish priest explained that, when there was no COVID-19, there was a procession through the streets in the Way of the Cross, but due to the restrictive measures it is not taking place.
Changes due to the pandemic
“There are things that can no longer be done because of the COVID-19, one of them is on Holy Thursday, there will be no washing of the feet because of the pandemic, and on Good Friday, there will be no Way of the Cross in the streets, but it will be done in a special way to maintain the social distancing and with the use of masks, but in the temple,” explained the parish priest.
Likewise, he pointed out that for Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil is celebrated during the whole day; on that day, the masses are not celebrated, and at night the preparation for the Easter Vigil is done, which is where all the sacraments are celebrated, beginning with baptism, confirmation and first communion.
This type of vigil before COVID-19 began at 12:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday.
Due to the pandemic, the usual traditional religious acts for these dates suffered significant variations, so that on Palm Sunday, the day that begins Holy Week, the precession of the branches was also not carried out.
Restrictions have not only been internal to the Catholic Church. People who take advantage of the Holy Week holiday to vacation and have fun also encounter limitations due to the pandemic.
The authorities prohibited the use of 238 bathing resorts, parties, and concerts. They ordered the sale of alcoholic beverages only to take away. They also banned swimming pools in the streets of the neighborhoods.