Even as Goa is officially open for tourism and many monuments across the country have opened, the churches at the world heritage complex in Old Goa have not, and are unlikely to welcome visitors and devotees before August.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, which saw over 5,000 daily visitors before the lockdown, remains closed even for the local faithful. Similarly, the Se Cathedral across the street too hasn’t opened after the lockdown. The basilica and cathedral are both protected sites under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
“We have told the ASI that we will consider reopening after July 31. However, if cases continue to peak, we may not be able to do so,” said rector of the basilica, Fr Patricio Fernandes.
“We want to open, but all conditions need to be met first. We need to be cautious,” he said. “Other churches can gauge where their faithful are coming from, but that is not possible here, where we would get up to 10,000 tourists visiting on holidays. Should someone carry the infection, we will have problems. It’s too risky.”he said.
Meanwhile, ASI Goa circle officials said that they are waiting for the Archdiocese’s nod to reopen the monuments. “We have already procured thermal guns,” an official said. “Churches have asked for time to put in place requirements laid down by the Archbishop. We are working out ways to handle visitors.”