It has been over a year since the first lockdown began. Many evident changes have taken place since then to keep people safe across several venues. As we approach Easter, a time of hope and new beginnings, it seems fitting to reflect on church service changes across the past year.

Last year, the restrictions did not allow people to attend churches during Holy Week; instead, followers resorted to live-streaming services. Although people preferred to go to the holy places in the flesh, circumstances meant they ought to adapt. The progression of technology has allowed people to take part regardless of their constraints, increasing accessibility to follow Christian practices at their homes.

Nevertheless, after months of being closed, churches reopened, and people are allowed to attend Masses. The number of people returning to churches increases as the government starts to lift the restrictions and cases are going down. During an interview with the Parish Priest of St Anselm's Roman Catholic Church, Fr Stephen Boyle. Father mentioned several changes regarding the procedure of Masses:

"I believe our system works; we try to make people feel comfortable even with all the restrictions in place. There are many sanitising areas, and people seem very happy with the services provided. But of course, some people may choose not to come at all. If they feel concerned, then we encourage them to stay home as it is their judgment if they still feel vulnerable. There is, of course, online streaming of the Masses available for the people who stay at home."

Several changes have occurred regarding churches' layout because of following the COVID-19 guidelines, such as the seats spaced in a format with at least a row of space between families and individuals from different households. Another apparent change observed was of Holy Water font alternating to a contactless Holy Water system. In the Catholic Church, visitors may choose to dip their fingers in the Holy Water font then make the sign of the cross on their foreheads; however, churches shifted this practice earlier due to the pandemic as the virus can spread through liquids. Yet now, there is a solution with a contactless Holy Water machine that operates similarly to an automatic hand sanitising dispenser.

Several churches have incorporated a booking system to avoid an overflow of attendees.

"Our services for Easter are currently fully booked, especially for Good Friday as there is only one particular service for that day."

People who want to attend Mass can, even if there are only limited spaces because churches like St. Anselm's offer extra Masses to cater for the social distancing as there are only half of the available seats than of the usual Mass.

"The first target is to cut down Masses as restrictions start to uplift; this would be changing our timetable from six Masses to four Masses. Financially, our parish members have set up standing orders and have been generous with donations."

Religious venues have been a place of comfort to many believers; there is a need for such sites to connect spiritually during troubled times. Although there are many restrictions in place, and when we may return to a probable normal lifestyle is unknown. There is still hope.