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TIJUANA (Border Report) — Churches and religious centers in Baja California were allowed to reopen over the weekend but only at 25 percent capacity.

Tijuana’s downtown cathedral, Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the site of long lines of people who waited to go inside to celebrate Mass.

At the 9 a.m. service, 40 people were allowed inside, but only after passing through an inspection area where antibacterial gel was given out and temperatures were taken.

“We all understand there have to be rules in place and we can’t all be together inside,” said churchgoer Leonor Medina. “We all want to attend Mass, I’ve been wanting to but because of all the closures I haven’t been able to, but now that we can, I’ll do whatever needs to be done to go inside the church.”

The traditional collection was not done. Instead, people were asked to leave donations at certain areas within the church, and the peace offering when Catholics shake hands, was replaced by bowing down slightly to fellow churchgoers.

The diocese said it has totally cleaned and disinfected all of its churches, pastoral centers and its seminary. It will also clean public areas such as pews between services.

Meantime, Tijuana Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barrón is asking that priests who have visited the sick in hospitals be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, “so they can continue with their work.”

“If this is something that needs to be discussed with health authorities in the city to see if even some of our priests can get the vaccine then we have to do it, so they can continue visiting the sick and the dying,” Moreno Barrón said. “Our priests have been in proximity to patients with COVID just like health care workers.”

The state will have to decide whether to grant the Archbishop’s request.

“It would be an excellent solution and show of support if they could be guaranteed the vaccination,” he said.

As of Monday afternoon, state health officials had yet to acknowledge the Archbishop’s desire to have his priests vaccinated.

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