To the parish priests and administrators,
Friday, Premier Blaine Higgs announced additional health measures to contain the latest pandemic wave that is affecting our province. These measures are effective today.
To comply with these new government guidelines, here are the additional measures added to our protocol already in place in our parishes:
- Anyone who attends church will now have to wear a mask. Otherwise, we cannot let them come in.
- As a courtesy and to avoid disappointment, each church should have available several single-use masks offered to the faithful who have forgotten to bring one or who are unaware of this new directive.
- People always need to wear the mask as soon as they enter the church (i.e., while going to sit in the pews, going to communion, and leaving the church).
- The physical distancing of 2 meters is still required.
- People need to wear a full mask. The transparent shield worn by some extraordinary ministers of communion, or volunteers at the door is no longer acceptable.
- As for the presiding priest and the reader, they do not have to wear a mask while assuming their liturgical function. The faithful need to hear and understand them. They are already at a suitable distance from the faithful. The presider remains in the sanctuary throughout the entire celebration. The priest should wear a mask entering the church and going to the sacristy to follow the same rule that applies to anyone in a public place and to set an example.
- As for the people who sing, they must be at a distance of at least 2 meters from each other and at least at a distance of 4 meters from the faithful and the people in the sanctuary. The choir loft, where possible, is perhaps the best place for acoustics and to insure sanitary measures.
- Furthermore, following strong recommendations by the government, we ask that the faithful not sing during the celebrations.
- In regards to Communion, a mask is required of the faithful (who may only remove the mask to consume the host) and the ministers of communion (priest of layty) unless the minister of communion is behind a physical plexiglass barrier that we find in a number of our churches. In this circumstance, the mask is not required by the minister of communion.
- Anyone who comes to the parish office will need to wear a mask.
- The secretary or staff member who receives the person will also have to wear a mask unless there is a physical barrier seperating the employee from the visitor (ex. plexiglass or glass window). This is in accordance with Work Safe NB guidelines.
- The secretary does not have to wear a mask continuously while doing her work unless there are people in her presence.
- Single-use masks should be available for those who have forgotten their own or are not aware of these new guidelines.
These are the new directives in addition to the protocol already in use in our parishes and offices. For more information, you can phone us at the diocese.
Let us hope that these guidelines will help contain this new wave and reassure all the faithful who come to celebrate with us the Lord’s Day or other celebrations.