‘Big challenge’ ahead for Masses

The administrator of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hamilton has said the Government’s move to require mandatory record-keeping at all Covid-19 alert levels for busy places and events is a “significant change” and will be a “big challenge”. 

People are used to arriving for Mass without “signing in”, wrote Fr Darren McFarlane in a cathedral facebook post on August 29. 

“We are exploring ways to make this easier on you, but it is going to be difficult. It is essential that, if you have a phone, make sure you have downloaded the Government’s Covid Tracer App,” he wrote. 

On the science media centre website, Auckland University research fellow Dr Andrew Chen said that places where people have to scan in or sign in should have ballot box arrangements for people who are not using the app, rather than clipboards, where others can see people’s information and their privacy can be breached. 

“With the ballot box, individuals write their details on a small slip of paper, and then drop them into a box (like an election box) so that other members of the public cannot easily access them,” Dr Chen wrote. 

“Venues can then clear the box once a day, putting the slips of paper into a bag with the date on it in case they are needed by contact tracers later on, or otherwise discarding them after 60 days. The Government has a ballot box template available online.” 

Fr McFarlane wrote that, when the move is made to alert level 2, and congregations of up to 100 are allowed, with social distancing and other requirements, the cathedral parish will resume its online booking system for Sunday Masses. 

“This system is not perfect,” he said. “Often people would book a space and then not turn up, or others would book a place at all five Masses because they were not sure which one they wanted to go to.”  

“This meant others were deprived of a spot at Mass. Still others would simply just turn up at the doors hoping to get in for Mass, and then become frustrated and even angry when they could not.  

“You can help those who struggle with technology by helping them book online when we get to Level 2.” 

Fr McFarlane also encouraged people to get vaccinated. 


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Michael Otto

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