AS we enter through the recovery phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to flatten the curve of the pandemic, it is good to be cautious and be aware that the news about the coronavirus elsewhere is still terrifying.

In the midst of all this, some parishioners are returning to their churches for Mass. They make reservations, wear masks, have their temperature checked at the door, apply hand sanitizer, sit in marked pews, refrain from exchanging the sign of peace, and follow masking tape arrows on the floor to stay socially distanced from others in the Communion line.

Many Catholics who return are hungry. They have missed the Eucharist. Though the post-coronavirus liturgy – “the new normal,” is a different experience, many Catholics are happy to have the opportunity to worship together and receive the Eucharist in person.

Parish staff and volunteers are working hard to prepare the churches/chapels, and to ensure the SOP in place for the safety of the Mass-goers, following diocesan or archdiocesan guidelines, as well as restrictions enforced by the government.

However, studies and experts have suggested that closed environments facilitate secondary transmission of the virus. The risk is in close proximity to someone in an indoor space for any extended period of time. Spending an hour inside a church with dozens of other people is not the same as popping into a store for five minutes to pick up food stuff.

Yes, weekly liturgy is an essential part of our faith – but if staying home from Mass means protecting lives, and preventing the dreaded second wave, then consider it the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, the authorities have cautioned that the nation has not yet reached the stage to consider an exit strategy. Do not let our guard down, or we will see resurgence of cases. The paths to victory over the virus are not plans for returning to anything even approaching normal.