Rochester Diocese issues new COVID guidelines to parishes

The Diocese of Rochester has issued updated guidelines to its parishes in light of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s June 15 order lifting COVID-19 restrictions in New York state.

According to a June 17 statement from the diocese, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear masks at Mass. However, the diocesan statement noted that “unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks” in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While fully vaccinated individuals are not required to maintain six feet of social distance at Mass, the diocese is encouraging parishes to consider offering some social-distancing seating for those who wish to continue the practice.

As a continued precaution, the diocese said that until further notice holy Communion should be distributed only under one form, that of the sacred host.

The diocese said parishes may omit the exchange of the sign of peace or encourage it only without contact.

The new guidelines also call for holy water fonts to remain empty and the continued use of fresh water for baptisms with fonts being cleaned after each baptism.

Churches also should continue cleaning and ensuring good ventilation through the introduction of fresh air whenever possible, according to the diocesan statement.

The statement concluded by saying “We continue to pray for all those who suffered illness and loss as a result of this tragic pandemic and for all those medical and emergency personnel and other essential workers who so selflessly served our community during this most challenging time.”

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