Message from Bishop Hugh on Covid Prevention Guidelines: 20th Feb 2022
As we know the Covid situation is fluid and restrictions are generally easing, even though the virus is still around. I have noticed a variety of practice in different churches.
Sometimes more is being done than need be. Hence this summary of the present requirements. The wearing of masks remains mandatory. It is no longer necessary to observe social distancing, to take names and contact details of those attending the Liturgy or to have stewards, unless they are found to be otherwise useful. While not required or mandatory, the sanitising of seats, pews or other surfaces after Mass may still be thought worth doing. Some persons do still prefer distancing. This desire can be met by providing an area within the church where greater distance is observed.
Sanitising gel should be provided at the entrance and exits of churches. In the celebration of Mass, the priest and other ministers of Holy Communion should continue to wear masks when distributing Holy Communion and sanitise their hands before and after. Communion will still be given under only one kind. Communion on the tongue is allowed. Those who wish to receive in that way can either be asked to present themselves after those receiving on the hand or, if there is a second Minister of Communion, to form a separate queue. Should there be contact between the minister’s fingers and the recipient’s tongue (which in my experience is rare) the minister should sanitise their hands before giving Holy Communion to the next person.
Holy Water may now be used by those who wish to bless themselves as they enter and leave the church. Hands should be sanitised before contact with the Holy Water and the Holy Water should be changed as and when required.
There are presently no plans to reinstate the sign of peace so this should be limited to a respectful bow of the head should parishes wish to do so.