In response to the First Minister’s announcement that social distancing will end on Monday 9th August. This means that from this date there will no longer be a legal requirement to maintain a 1m distance between people and therefore churches and halls may return to their normal capacity.
However, it will be up to each parish priest, with the assistance of their Covid coordinators as to how they manage this return to normality, taking into account that some people will be more hesitant than others if they are very close together and therefore you may want to keep social distancing in some parts of your churches for those who still have concerns.
Face masks are still required to be worn by the congregation and by priests, deacons and lay-ministers when in close proximity to others and while distributing communion as is hand hygiene. Please continue to use hand sanitiser dispensers in your church. The careful cleaning of churches is still advised especially around multi touch points.
Parish Priests can decide when the faithful can return to processing forward for Holy Communion at Communion time. The faithful should continue to receive communion in the hand. The physical ‘Sign of Peace’ is still not allowed at this time. Avoid crowding at entrances and exits.
The Bishops Conference Covid Working Group continues to highlight the importance of ventilation: where possible, open all windows whilst the church is in use.
There are some changes to self-isolation: “Adults identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will also no longer be automatically required to self- isolate for 10 days from 9 August. Anyone who is double-vaccinated with at least two weeks passed since their second dose and who have no symptoms will be able to end self-isolation if they return a negative PCR test.” This means that even if a priest is a close contact he might not have to isolate and so wouldn’t have to cancel Masses etc – of course each individual should follow the particular advice they receive if they are contacted by the NHS.
Please also note that in regards to the use of holy water fonts There is still a risk that the virus can be transmitted through the use of fonts and therefore their use is not advised until further notice.
Distribution of hymn books for Mass and newsletters is now allowed as normal.
Use of confessionals: The use of enclosed confessionals should continue to be avoided.
Test and Protect: We need to continue the Test and Protect regime by the collection and temporary retention of parishioner information. However, if this is unduly burdensome parishes may collect information for just one person per family group. Or alternatively, parishes may invite people to register for their usual Mass as a one-off and ask them to
inform the parish if they are not going to attend. Most congregations tend to be fairly stable, especially as we now have greater numbers attending Mass.
Deacon Bill McMillan
Diocesan Covid Coordinator
O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain,
with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that,
as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.