Archdiocese of Washington Announces Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions at Masses
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington issued updated liturgical guidelines related to COVID-19 protocols, including the lifting of some previous restrictions, beginning on Friday, May 28, at 5 p.m.
The revisions take into account the recent executive orders by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments.
Catholic churches in the District of Columbia and all five Maryland counties in the Archdiocese – Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s – are now no longer subject to governmental capacity or social distancing limits given the decreasing level of coronavirus in the community and the increasing numbers of vaccinated persons. There are no capacity limits on the number of people who may now attend Mass. Masks will not be required in any jurisdiction of any person inside churches or most other venues. Masks are recommended, but not required, for unvaccinated persons inside churches. Masks are still required in all jurisdictions for all persons in schools and childcare facilities.
Other guidelines include:
- The use of masks by ordinary and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion while distributing Holy Communion is still required during the distribution.
- Social distancing is still required between individuals from separate households during Mass, although the social distancing space can be reduced from six feet to three feet, and every pew may be utilized.
- Parishes should continue to have hand sanitizer available at all of the entrances of churches.
- Musical accompaniment at Mass or other liturgical celebrations may employ a cantor and organist or pianist, or even a small musical ensemble of no more than 4 singers, and social distancing must be observed. Hymns and sung Mass parts are allowed.
- Baptismal fonts and Holy Water stoups may be used.
- Hard copy bulletins and other printed liturgical materials may be used.
- Procession at the beginning of Mass and recession at the end of Mass may be restored.
- The Sign of Peace should be restored with the use of a gesture, such as a bow or wave, but shaking of hands should be avoided.
- The distribution of the Precious Blood remains suspended until further notice.
These new guidelines apply not only to attendance and the celebration of Mass, but also to other parish liturgical events such as weddings, funerals, and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.