Sunday and daily masses have been called off because of coronavirus concerns, the bishops of Malta and Gozo have announced.

The decision was taken after consultation with the health authorities.

The decision was announced hours after the government said it was closing schools.

The bishops said all religious activities, which also include catechism classes, have been called off.

The faithful are being given a dispensation not to go to holy mass on Sundays.

The directive applies with immediate effect in the interests of the most vulnerable members of society, the bishops said. 

In the case of funerals, priests will carry out the rites at the cemetery, in the open air, in the presence of the closest relatives only.

Churches will remain open for private prayer. 

The bishops said masses will be transmitted on TVM2, Knisja.mt and Newsbook.com.mt as follows: Friday, at Noon, mass celebrated by the archbishop. 
Monday to Friday, 9.30am; rosary at 5.30pm.

On Saturday and Sunday TVM2 will transmit holy mass at 6.30pm and 9am respectively.  

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