NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe are asking residents to stay at home during Holy Week due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The annual pilgrimages to El Santuario de Chimayo and Tome Hill have been canceled this year as the result of the stay at home order which prohibits gatherings of five or more individuals.
The grounds, chapel, and restrooms at El Santuario de Chimayo will be closed Holy Thursday through Easter Monday which is April 9 through April 13. NMDOT and the Archdiocese discourage residents from visiting the sacred site.
Due to the closings, NMDOT will not be providing the department’s usual assistance along the traveled routes to the sites. This includes lighting, traffic signs, trash receptacles, electronic message boards, barrels and cones.
“I am pleased to provide these provisions for New Mexicans during Holy Week but this year, we all need to stay home,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval in a press release. “It’s not the time to risk walking, not only to help stop the spread of COVID-19 but also to prevent any injuries or deaths on our roadway.”
Archbishop John Wester also strongly discourages residents from participating in the annual tradition.
“In unity with all Christians, we call on the faithful to make home the holy place for the sake of all families during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative we heed the advice of our global scientists, medical and public health experts,” said Archbishop Wester. “Stay home. By practicing social distancing, together we can save lives.”
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham also is strongly urging New Mexicans to avoid large gatherings during Holy Week, including places of worship.
“We understand this is a terrible hardship for the faithful, but public health is the first and foremost consideration,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “And large groups are an enormous public health risk to our communities right now. I am immensely grateful to the Archbishop and to faith leaders from all across the state who have voluntarily canceled Holy Week congregations and encourage everyone to heed the guidance: This week, home is the holy place.”