The following updated coronavirus advice has been issued to bishops and parishes by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales with immediate effect.

The key things for parishes in these circumstances to do in Stage 2 are:

  1. It is likely you will need to suspend distribution under both kinds (the host to be given on the hand only). When giving communion in the hand seek to ensure you place the host in the hand of the recipient in such a way that you do not touch their hands.
  2. Suspend the physical sign of peace.
  3. Remove holy water stoups.
  4. Public veneration of relics and the Cross on Good Friday should NOT be by kissing or physically touching them.
  5. Advise those most vulnerable (elderly, people with weakened immune systems and long-term conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease) to refrain from large parish gatherings and stay at home.
  6. Cease use of shared hymn books and missals which could help transmit the virus.
  7. Ask everyone attending Mass to sanitise their hands as they come into church using sanitised gel dispensers (make these available in porches or entrances).
  8. Ensure everyone maintains good hygiene especially at Mass and parish gatherings.The best way of protecting us from the spread is still for everyone to use universal good hygiene, which will effectively disrupt the spread of the virus. So display the public information poster attached, which states:
  • Catch it – sneeze into a tissue
  • Bin it – bin the tissue
  • Kill it – wash your hands with soap and water
  • Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands.
  1. Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from attending liturgy and public events and not to attend the sacrament of reconciliation if symptomatic (they may have an ordinary cold but equally it is important to ensure a precautionary approach).
  2. Ensure very regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly (eg ideally clean door handles before and after every Mass).
  3. Do not pass the collection plate around.
  4. Ensure ministers of the Eucharist sanitise their hands before and after distributing communion (we should be doing this anyway as a matter of course). This can be done by washing hands discreetly before proceeding to the sanctuary or using good quality hand gel discreetly. Remember to use good handwashing and gel use technique. You can find more here nhs.uk/livewell/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/and a poster here who.int/gpsc/5may/resources/posters/en/
  1. When visiting parishioners at home, wash hands before giving the sacraments. No pastoral visits to people who are self-isolating until isolation ends. However, do offer phone support.
  2. Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.
  3. Suspend catering (teas, coffees etc) at large parish gatherings where multiple people touch mugs, utensils, biscuits etc.

 

 

 

 

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