VATICAN CITY, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Pope Francis’ Christmas Eve Mass will start two hours earlier, the Vatican said on Thursday, allowing even the limited number of people who can attend to get home by a 10 p.m. Italian curfew to contain the coronavirus.
A program for the pope’s Christmas activities showed that the Mass, which normally starts at 9:30 p.m, would instead start at 7:30 p.m.
As in all of the pope’s Christmas season events from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, public participation will be severely limited.
Since the outbreak began in February, Francis has often encouraged people to respect government regulations aimed at containing the virus.
Italy, the first Western country hit by the virus, has seen61,739 COVID-19 fatalities, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain. It has also registered 1.77 million cases to date.
The Italian government has imposed a number of other restrictions during the holiday season, including a ban on travel within regions between Dec. 21 and Jan. 6.
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