The Italian Government has banned people from attending the traditional Christmas Eve midnight mass after nearly 1,000 people died in a day, meaning the service will have to move to earlier in the evening.
On 3rd December, 993 people died from coronavirus, causing the Government to apply travel restrictions, get tougher on quarantine rules and extend the 10pm curfew into December.
The restrictions will get stricter between 21st December until 6th January, with travelling between regions banned. Travelling between towns is banned on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
The tradition Catholic 'midnight mass' service isn't necessarily at midnight but is often in the late evening, with the Pope holding it at 9pm in recent years and has been called 'Mass during the night'.
Sandra Zampa, the Junior Health Minister, said those attending the Christmas Eve mass must be home by the 10pm curfew, meaning services should finish about 8:30pm. She also urged people not to invite others round for a meal.
Writing in an Italian newspaper about the history of Christmas Eve mass, Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro, director of journal La Civilta Cattolica, wrote: "the symbolically important fact for the celebration of Christmas night is not the exact hour - whether it is midnight or another time - but the fact that it is celebrated when there is no light, when it's dark out, precisely to make evident the symbolic meaning of the feast," which is the light of Christ coming into the world.
"If one understands the reasoning, one also would understand that if the celebration of Mass during the night takes place when it's dark outside, but before midnight, it certainly won't make Jesus be born early."
Italy has had 57,045 fatalities due to coronavirus since February.