Vatican offices to remain open amid coronavirus lockdown
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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Vatican City State offices and dicasteries of the Holy See will remain open and working, with additional precautions and the possibility to work from home in some cases, the Vatican said Thursday.
Vatican offices on an empty Papa Pio XII Square
Vatican City, (CNA) - Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Vatican City State offices and dicasteries of the Holy See will remain open and working, with additional precautions and the possibility to work from home in some cases, the Vatican said Thursday.
A March 12 statement said "it has been established that the dicasteries and entities of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State remain open to ensure essential services to the Universal Church."
With the permission of their superior, certain employees may work remotely. Those whose work regards materials or information protected by the pontifical secret may not work from home, according to provisions distributed by the Secretariat of State, which is coordinating the Vatican's measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to continue work was made during a special March 12 meeting of the heads of dicasteries, chaired by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The Secretariat of State's provisions asked that offices adopt flexible hours and have employees and officials work varying shifts to avoid having many people present in the office at the same time.
"The activities of the dicasteries, of the entities of the Holy See or connected to it and of the Governorate of the Vatican City State must continue to be guaranteed," the document states, with consideration for what are the most essential services.
The temporary provisions are in effect from March 11.
Pope Francis had a normal schedule of several one-on-one meetings in the morning March 12, including with Fr. Roberto Dotta, the abbot of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major.
He also met with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, deacon of the College of Cardinals, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
The ambassador of Japan to the Holy See, Yoshio Matthew Nakamura, also had a courtesy visit with Pope Francis March 12.
Several Vatican officials told CNA earlier this week that work inside Vatican offices continues despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Employees and officials have been asked to remain one meter away from each other at all times, to restrict visits from guests, and to not gather for meetings or around the coffee machine, one official said.
Italian police closed the border with the Vatican at St. Peter's Square March 10. St. Peter's Basilica was also closed to tourists.
The Italian government has put Italy on a nationwide lockdown through April 3 to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has caused the death of more than 800 people in the country.
The quarantine prevents movement within the country and limits other travel. People are required to stay at home except to go to work, the supermarket, or the pharmacy.
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