The move comes due to its five-county area’s move into Governor Wolf’s ‘Yellow Phase’ in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last 12 weeks have proven somber occasions for believers within the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as stay-at-home orders have kept them from gathering in their places of worship. Come this weekend, although there will be restrictions connected to their presence, they will once again have the chance to be among one another and their religious leaders. The opportunity comes via the area’s move into the ‘Yellow Phase’ that Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, has crafted to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since mid-March, places of business have schooled millions on following social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and churches will now be joining the mix, using the public health institute’s input to do so. Through its Office for Divine Worship, the Archdiocese issued a seven-page document on May 27, giving thorough explanations of each facet of Mass attendance long familiar to attendees. Some of the major takeaways from an inspection of the literature include the following:
- Hand sanitizers will be available at church entrances
- The occupancy rate for each site may be up to 50 percent. This range means that locations will seat worshipers in every other row or every third row.
- Individuals with disabilities will have access entrances, ramps and seating clearly marked for them
- Mentions of the sick, the dead, and medical personnel key to the fight against the coronavirus will regularly occur
- A reduction in singing will take place, with no choirs to participate
- Hymnals will not appear in pews. Rather, churches have received encouragement to offer single-use worship aids
- Masses will not include the Sign of Peace or the distribution of the Precious Blood
These measures will certainly take some time for parishioners and guests to become accustomed to, as will alterations to other sacraments’ celebration. The Office of Worship’s release also touches on those events’ procedures, noting that more information will become available as the Archdiocese approaches the commencement of its Open Phase in conjunction with the state’s Green Phase.