Rome Is Sanitizing Hundreds of Churches in Preparation for Resuming Public Masses

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By Melissa Butz

Public Masses will resume in Italy on Monday May 18, after more than two months on lockdown. Before that though, a complete disinfection of every church in Rome is taking place.

Cleaners, decked out in masks, gloves and hazmat suits, worked alongside soldiers and priests to get priests to get the parishes sterilized.

“We are beginning to sanitize inside the 337 parishes in Rome at the request of the Vicariate of Rome,” said Virginia Raggi, Rome’s mayor.

Inside and outside the churches, disinfectant is sprayed as part of the requirements before Masses can resume.

“We have 80 teams and from them, nine are working in Rome,” explained General Domenico Ciotto. “All are specialized in environmental remediation.”

Every surface is sprayed, with products made from either chlorine, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Once dry, seats are blocked off with signs, to ensure the three-feet distance required for liturgical celebrations.

“Our sanitizing and daily cleaning consists of cleaning pews, the altar, and any areas people touch with their hands,” explained Katia of De Simone Pietro Cleaning Service.

The Vatican is also preparing for reopening day May 18, cleaning inside the basilica and placing yellow tape where pilgrims should stand before entering St. Peter’s.

A top priority is to keep senior citizens safe from the coronavirus. The most at-risk group represents a big part of many Italian congregations.

A 2018 study in the country showed 2.5 million Italians aged 75 and older attended weekly Mass, making them the largest age group going to Church. 

Hand sanitizer at the door, distancing, masks, and gloves are required for everyone who enters a church. It is the only way Italy’s government agreed with bishops to open the churches back up.