Social Distancing and Health Safety - Recommendations and Strategies
Follow the regulations of public health authorities. This normally means that non-family members should be 6 feet apart and appropriate measures should be taken to make the worship space clean and safe.
Some or all of the following may be helpful – this list is updated regularly:
• Remind the faithful that they have been dispensed from their Sunday obligation, and thus their desire to participate in Mass could be fulfilled on any day of the week.
• Determine the maximum capacity of your church based on the 6-feet rule, and plan for ways to regulate the number of people inside at any one time.
• Deliberately use every other or every third pew/row; mark off other pews/rows.
• Mark pews/rows with different colors and use only certain colored pews/rows at certain liturgies (e.g. red pews/rows at one Mass, blue pews/rows at the next Mass) to reduce the need for cleaning in between Masses.
• Reduce the number of possible entrances into the church to better regulate attendance and preserve one-way traffic patterns.
• Count the number of attendees at Mass to anticipate future crowds.
• Utilize auxiliary but connected spaces like choir lofts, transepts, etc. to maximize capacity.
• Consider designating one side of the church for families (entire pews would be set aside) and the other side of the church for Individuals or couples (observing social distancing, a single pew could likely accommodate more than one station).
• With perhaps the assistance of ushers, consider seating in the front pews first and then working to the back of the church.
• Invite people to RSVP in advance of coming to Mass using services such as SignupGenius, Eventbrite, etc.
• Consider the routes of the Communion procession to avoid two-way traffic.
• If long-handled collection baskets are not available, setup monitored collection points around the church for offering envelopes. Remind parishioners about opportunities for online giving.
• Suspend Children’s Liturgy of the Word unless this can be done with appropriate social distancing.
• Instruct hospitality ministers (if their presence is absolutely necessary) in ways of greeting the faithful with appropriate social distancing, if this can be done.
• Avoid ministers greeting the faithful after Mass unless this can be done with proper social distancing.
• Avoid social activities (e.g. coffee and donuts) unless this can be done with proper social distancing and food safety protocols.
• Ensure that the reception of disposable worship aids can be done safely and with appropriate social distancing; either place new ones in each pew before Mass, and/or make it available online for viewing on tablets or smartphones during Mass.
• Ensure that the giving of bulletins after Mass can be done safely and with appropriate social distancing; perhaps emphasize online access to bulletins and other important publications.
• If more space is needed for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, use a larger room rather than the usual confessional, and emphasize the use of a screen.
• Make hand sanitizer available at each entrance.
• Clean all possible surfaces frequently, especially those touched frequently by multiple people, even between liturgies.
• Reduce the number of touchpoints as people enter by propping open doors or having one person open doors.
• Wipe down books, vessels, and other materials.
• Clean liturgical vestments regularly and avoid sharing albs among ministers.
• The use of the larger-sized congregational altar breads (i.e. 1 3/8″) will reduce the hand-to-hand contact between minister and Communicant.
• Use wood soap and water to clean pews, chairs and other wooden surfaces; test this on unseen surfaces to avoid damaging the finish.
• Clean restrooms frequently, even between Sunday liturgies.
• Ensure proper ventilation in public spaces.
• An instrument (e.g. cotton swab) may be used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. If a priest or deacon believes it necessary for health safety, an instrument may also be used for Chrismation (post-baptismal anointing or Confirmation). As a reminder, the anointing with Oil of Catechumens is always optional.
With questions or concerns, please contact the Office for Divine Worship & Sacraments.