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Capacity restrictions to be lifted on churches

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The Diocese of Arlington announced that as of July 1, all 70 parishes are able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted. This is consistent with Phase 3 of “Forward Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam’s phased approach for easing public health restrictions associated with slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge is continuing the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation until further notice. Those who are 65 years old or older, as well as those with underlying health conditions, are encouraged to avoid gatherings of the general public, including public liturgies. 

Under Phase 3, the cap at 50 percent occupancy for places of worship is lifted. The guidelines continue to call for social distancing, including maintaining a distance of 6 feet in public settings. Parishioners 10 years old and older are expected to wear face coverings in accordance with Gov. Northam’s executive order 63, which allows exceptions for health reasons and specific religious rituals.

Catholics are encouraged to check the diocesan webpage or their local parish websites for updates and Mass times. All but a handful of parishes have resumed the public celebration of Mass and many continue streaming Mass online. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020