In response to the developing situation concerning the Coronavirus and COVID-19, and in order to reduce possible transmission, the Bishops’ Conference has requested that the following measures are implemented with immediate effect.
I would like all parishes and chaplaincies to follow these measures, as far as is possible, until further notice.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
10 March 2020
1) The sign of peace is to be suspended at Mass. In order not to create confusion in the minds of the lay faithful, all priests should simply omit any reference to the offering of the sign of peace, prior to the Agnus Dei.
2) Holy Communion from the chalice shall cease to be offered to the lay faithful. The practice of intinction is not to be introduced as an alternative. Priest concelebrants however may receive communion by intinction.
3) 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.
4) The faithful should be encouraged to receive the sacred host in the hand rather than on the tongue. Their doing this represents an act of loving charity to their community.
5) Holy water stoups in churches and chapels are to be emptied.
6) Churches and chapels that are open daily for private prayer should continue to remain open. Care should be given to ensuring that surfaces of high contact (e.g. light switches, door handles and areas around the door) are regularly sanitised throughout the day. Ideally door handles should be cleaned before and after every Mass.
7) Priests/deacons should wash and sanitise their hands before Mass. All ministers should discreetly wash and sanitise their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion. Shared towels should not be used in toilet areas or the sacristy.
8) Shared hymnbooks and Mass books should cease to be used. Single-use Mass sheets may be used, though these should be disposed of immediately after use.
9) Ask everyone attending Mass to sanitise their hands as they come into church using sanitised gel dispensers, assuming they are available. These should be placed in porches or entrances.
10) Do not pass the collection plate around; alternative methods for the collection should be sought.
11) Mass with Anointing should be deferred until later in the year. Priests should offer to anoint the sick in their homes. Hands should be thoroughly washed and sanitised before and after each anointing.
12) When visiting parishioners at home, wash hands before and after giving the sacraments. There should be no pastoral visits to people who are self-isolating until isolation ends. However, do offer phone support.
13) Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.
14) Suspend catering (teas, coffees etc) at large parish gatherings where multiple people touch mugs, utensils, biscuits etc.
15) Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from attending liturgy or other public events and to not attend the sacrament of reconciliation if symptomatic. They may have an ordinary cold but equally it is important to ensure a precautionary approach.
16) Advise those most vulnerable to refrain from large parish gatherings and stay at home.
17) On Good Friday, the traditional ‘Veneration of the Cross’ is to be observed by a simple genuflection or bow.
18) Veneration of relics should be observed without physical contact.