US Bishops’ Conference releases recommendations on how to safely reopen churches


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Catholic churches are looking forward to welcoming parishioners back soon, as the U.S. Bishops’ Conference has released some recommendations on how to safely open churches back up.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, has said he would like to see Masses resume by May 31, but the question is, how can churches do so to ensure services are safe?

The guidelines Catholic leaders have released include three phases, which offer possibilities for celebrations with gatherings of 10 people, then 50 and eventually larger groups.

Dr. Timothy Flanagan, an infectious disease specialist at Brown University who is also a Catholic deacon, helped put together the guidelines.

Among the suggestions for the first phase: limiting access to the Mass to a first-come, first-served policy, or on a rotation system. This would also include asking congregants to wear masks and using hand sanitizer during the distribution of Communion.

Churches are also asked to use tape to mark seats in pews to help maintain proper social distancing between people.

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