ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Phase two of Long Island's reopening on Wednesday means houses of worship can once again welcome people, as long as the worship areas are no more than 25 percent occupancy.
It has been nearly three months since the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced on March 16 the cancelation of all services with limited exceptions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Houses of worship for other faiths canceled as well around the same time. Initially, the Diocese canceled services until April 15, but that had been extended until June 9 as per New York State mandates to help minimize virus spread by prohibiting mass gatherings.
On June 10, houses of worship will once again open their doors. Today, on the eve of reopening, the Diocese released guidance for its churches.
The following is the full announcement from the Diocese of Rockville Centre:
Beginning Wednesday, June 10, 2020, parishes in the Diocese of Rockville Centre may host all public liturgies and Sacraments (Mass, weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.) in churches/indoor facilities with 25 percent building capacity in attendance.
A reminder that those who are sick or vulnerable due to age or health conditions are strongly encouraged to remain at home and view the Mass on Catholic Faith Network. Detailed directives have been sent to pastors of the parishes in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Below are highlights of those directives:
- Holy Communion is NOT to be distributed until further notice.
- The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect indefinitely. Those who are sick or vulnerable due to age or health conditions are strongly encouraged to remain at home and view the Mass on Catholic Faith Network or online.
- It is recommended that parishes close or block access to 2 of every 3 pews (one pew open, the next two closed, one pew open, the next two closed).
- Families and those who traveled to the church together may sit together. All others must maintain social distancing (6 feet apart).
- Masks (or cloth facial coverings) must be worn by all present. However the priest celebrant will not wear a mask or gloves during the celebration of the Holy Mass.
- Masks or facial coverings should NOT be worn by children under two years of age or anyone with breathing difficulties.
- Holy Water fonts should remain empty. Holy Water dispensers (tanks) can remain available for people to take Holy Water home with them.
- All clergy and assistants for the liturgy must wash or sanitize their hands immediately before the liturgy begins.
- Clergy and anyone in the sanctuary are not to wear gloves.
- Hymnals/missals should be removed from the pews. Bulletins should not be distributed.
- There is to be no entrance, offertory or recessional procession so as to avoid close contact with numerous people.
- The Sign of Peace continues to be omitted until further notice.
- Collection baskets should not be passed around. It is recommended that collection stations be provided where the faithful can simply drop their collection into a basket or container before or after Mass, or that baskets with poles be used to avoid contact.