The Church in Times of Lockdown
Restrictions at level 2 (Delta) with respect to gathering in Church buildings
Under Alert Level 2 in September 2021, religious gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 100 people. The gathering limits do not include staff — for example, clergy. We are encouraged to wear masks. These restrictions make a significant difference to our ability to gather in Church buildings for Mass.
Bishop Pat after taking advice and guidance has decreed.
There will be no Sunday Masses during Level 2. Bishop Pat 14 September 2021
The letter to priests and parishioners can be downloaded <here>.
The dispensation of attendance at Sunday Mass will still in place. Bishop Pat March 2020
If parishes feel they can provide weekday Masses at Level 2, while also keeping to the guidelines they are welcome to do so:
Note there is now a requirement of the venue (parish) to ensure registration. This requires the provision of a number of easily accessible Covid-19 scanning codes.
More than one at the door - on newsletters, on pews etc.
For those that are unable to scan you must provide a paper register.
Further and helpful information can be found on these official government directions:
Other Liturgical Considerations
- At the Sign of Peace, people should avoid shaking hands or other contact with one another, and instead smile, nod or bow to one another.
- Holy Communion is not to be distributed from the chalice.
- Holy Communion is only to be distributed in the hand, not on the tongue.
- Holy water is to be removed from vessels at the church door
Hygiene and Cleaning
- Regular cleaning should be undertaken of any surfaces that may be contaminated at the end of each day, or in the morning before opening.
- If volunteers or parish employees are going to do this, they should be instructed on the required level of cleaning and the steps to take to ensure their health is not compromised and provided with any necessary equipment.
- Hand sanitiser should again be available at the entrance to the church.
- Setting up the building so that the minimal amount of surfaces are touched. For example: consider restricting access to minimize areas of concern
- At the start of the day prop all doors open, so door handles don’t need to be touched. This will also keep the building ventilated.
- Remove or block all places commonly touched in churches E.g. Holy Water fonts are empty and covered, removal of any prayer intention box and votive candle stand,
- Ensure adequate supplies of cleaning materials, PPE, hand sanitiser, and other provisions are available.
- Toilet areas should be regularly cleaned.
- Church buildings are public spaces, face coverings are encouraged when inside.
- Rather than a procession to communion the minister might move to the people to distribute.
Under level 2 a minister may attend a patient in hospital to administer last rites but must follow
- visiting rules of the health facility (including mask wearing )and,
- all relevant infection prevention and control procedures.”
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament can be offered, maintaining a distance of at least two metres. There will need to be a suitable location that respects privacy and all safeguarding protocols while abiding by the physical distant requirements.
Churches can remain open for private prayer.
Parish offices can open with staff needing to be 1 metre apart.
It is recommended that workers wear a face covering if they are in close contact with others.
If staff have health concerns for him / herself or their family then they should discuss this with their parish priest.