Coronavirus forces families to stay apart, rework traditions for Easter weekend

HOUSTON – It’s Good Friday, but for many, Easter weekend will not be the same as every other year. The coronavirus pandemic has forced parks to close, churches to go online and families to stay apart.

This week, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that all parks in Houston and Harris County would be shut down for Easter weekend.

People who violate the closures could face some hefty consequences.

“(Violators) are subject to a $1,000 dollar fine and/or arrest for 180 days,” said Constable Alan Rosen with Harris County Precinct 1. “Our goal -- I think it’s everybody’s goal -- is not to add additional stress to everybody’s life … the intent of this is to prevent people from spreading this virus.”

Churches and people of faith are also making major changes.

The Pope gave a prayer service to an empty St. Peter’s Square, churches have closed their doors and parishes in the archdiocese stopped performing living services two weeks ago.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is making calls for unity, even in distance.

“Please pray for the doctors and nurses and all those at the first line of defense,” DiNardo said. “That's really crucial and significant. And then pray for those who are having families and suffering or have lost family members. It's a great, difficult time.

DiNardo said to take a moment to be generous and contribute where you can.

“There are lots of people who would never have asked for food but who are laid off work and so strenuous they can't do it,” DiNardo said. “I would also say this, call somebody who is lonely. An elderly person, a senior you know in your neighborhood.”

DiNardo said that even though friends and family have to spend time apart, it is crucial that you take time to find a way to be together.

“We have to do things together,” said DiNardo. “You can’t say you are self-sufficient. Those are lessons (that) faith can teach in even a deeper way, I think.”

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