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What to expect at public Masses during Phase 1

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The Diocese of Arlington released specific guidelines May 15 detailing how the laity can participate in the public celebration of Mass while preventing the spread of coronavirus. 

Going forward, there will be no holy water fonts or missalettes in the pews. Massgoers will be physically spaced out through the church. Attendees must wear face masks and are encouraged to sanitize their hands with personal hand sanitizer before entering the church and before receiving Communion. There will be no presentation of the gifts by members of the assembly. 

During Communion, Eucharistic blood will not be distributed. Eucharistic bread will only be distributed by clergy. Communicants should leave space between each other while in the Communion line and are encouraged to receive Communion on the hand without wearing gloves. Eucharistic ministers are encouraged to sanitize their own hands if they accidentally come into physical contact with a communicant’s hand. 

Each parish will adapt these rules and possibly implement others to suit the needs of the parish and church building. Ushers or porters will help the pastor enforce capacity limitations, physical distancing and other safety measures. 

Read the full guidelines here. 

Though some parts of the diocese are celebrating public Masses again, until further notice, all the faithful are still dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass, said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. Those who are vulnerable or feel ill in any way are encouraged to avoid gatherings such as Mass. Many parishes will continue to livestream Mass. 

Many parts of the commonwealth, excluding Northern Virginia, moved into Phase 1 of Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan May 15, which allows places of worship to hold services with 50 percent of the building’s capacity. Bishop Burbidge is allowing parishes in Northern Virginia, which will be in Phase 0 until at least May 28, to hold Communion services with fewer than 10 people.  


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020