By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Archbishop Jason Gordon is urging parishioners to register for Masses and also show consideration for others who wish to attend.
On October 24 Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced places of worship, beaches and casinos were opened albeit with preventive measures in effect. Religious services are to be for one hour and at 50 per cent capacity with social distancing. On August 15, Rowley announced a roll-back with closures of places of worship, beaches and rivers and a halt to in-house dining to halt community spread of COVID-19.
Speaking at the end of Mass held at the Living Water Community Chapel today, October 28, Archbishop Gordon said, “Now we have opened back the churches and this weekend especially, please go and register so that we can know who is coming. ” A seat can be reserved for Mass using Calendly, or call-in.
Archbishop Gordon said to the persons registering, “please turn up”. He suggested that persons first decide which Mass they planned to attend, then register and go. “If you go and register for three Masses and then decide …you are stopping other people from coming so decide, register and go.”
Of churches reopening, the Archbishop reminded faithful to try and keep each other safe. “We keep God first in everything we do,” he concluded.
The Archdiocesan Health and Safety Team on Wednesday issued Bulletin #7 Reopening of Churches during the week of October 25, 2020 to parish priests and other church officials.
The document covers: Things to be done before attendees are allowed to enter our Churches, Activities before and during Mass, Distribution of Holy Communion, Activities after Mass and General Information. It advised: “The maximum for each parish church, parish hall, parish building or any other building in which a Mass or a meeting is being held for church-related activities is: fifty percent (50%) of the total social distancing capacity of the particular building, based on an allowance of thirty-six square feet per person”.
Churches must have markings on the floor and pews to allow for the required physical distancing. Sinks, faucets and running water are in place to accommodate hand washing or hand sanitiser, at least 60 percent alcohol content, available at different points of entry.
All attendees must wear a face mask, covering nose and mouth. The guidelines point to the mask fitting properly over the nose, mouth and extending across the nose bridge, around the mouth and under the chin. The mask must be in “direct physical contact with the face on all sides ”. Commenting on face shields, the document states a face shield may be worn in addition to a mask. It noted, “please note that the face shield by itself does not provide sufficient protection from limiting the spread of respiratory droplets and the potential transmission of virus particles”.
Temperature checks will be done before entering churches. It should not exceed 37.7⁰C.
Persons with flu-like symptoms should not attend any church ceremonies.
All persons attending services are to register, giving their name and telephone number should contact tracing become necessary.
The priest or lay minister will distribute communion at “arm’s-length”; communion will not be given on the tongue and there will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.
Attendees are required to keep their mask on until the host is received in the hand. Upon turning away from the priest/lay minister, the mask is lowered, the host placed in the mouth before the mask is returned to position on the face and congregant returns to their seat. There is to be no congregating after Mass.
The full Bulletin can be viewed here.