Guidance for Parishioners attending Mass in our churches
(last update 27th February 2022)
Below is a full guidance about behaviour in our churches.
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The wearing of Face coverings is still encouraged when you visit our churches. Thank you.
To ease concerns regarding overcrowding, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have maintained the dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation. If they can, Mass goers are invited to attend during the week rather than busy Sunday mornings.
GUIDANCE – END OF RESTRICTIONS
The scientific consensus is that society is moving towards the stage where the virus is transitioning from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase, but as stated by HM Government, there is still a risk associated with gathering for sustained periods in enclosed spaces and therefore there needs to be continued caution by all against infection.
This, however, has to be balanced against the need to move forward safely towards a normal lifestyle and these two positions will always be held in tension. This holding in tension is the key to living safely with Covid-19, namely keeping infections from a virus that cannot be eliminated to levels which minimise disruption to people’s lives.
This guidance has been written with this principle in mind.
Alongside the positive effects of covid vaccination, it should be stressed that any people displaying symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home and not participate in acts of worship in church. This isgood practice for any transmissible illness.
The main form of virus transmission is via personal oral or nasal aerosol. Those attending an act of worship may continue to wear a face covering (both nose and mouth) whilst in the church building. There is no need for formal social distancing in church buildings, although those present should be sensitive to the needs of others around them. Churches should continue to ensure there is good ventilation, balancing this against the need for church heating, especially at this time.
It is clear from scientific evidence that transmission from surfaces (touch transmission) is now minimal and so the use of hymn books, missals and other worship aids can be resumed with
immediate effect. Whilst it is still good practice to sanitise hands on entry and exit of churches, there is no need for readers (or other ministers) to sanitise their hands before reading or performing other ministries in the church. All ministers of Holy Communion (clergy and lay people) should still sanitise their hands for the distribution of Holy Communion. Holy water stoups may be refilled but care should be seen that the water is changed regularly. Usual forms of church cleaning are sufficient.
Regarding the liturgical action, there should be a return to the normal mode of celebrating Mass.
The Sign of Peace may be offered again if felt appropriate, ( Shaking of hands and bowing to the persons on your immediate right and/or left). Holy Communion should be distributed at the usual place and in the usual mode (i.e. with the faithful approaching the minister in an orderly procession). For the time being, Holy Communion must continue to be given under one kind only (the Sacred Host).
Congregational singing may continue and there is a general encouragement to wear face coverings while singing. However, it is recognised that not everyone will feel able to do this.
Whilst this reduction of restrictions brings about a more normal way of living, the Covid-19 virus is still in circulation, and this should be in the mind of those participating in the life of the Church as time goes forward holding in balance the need for personal safety and taking responsibility for that safety.
Extract from the Guidance from the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales.