The faithful to congregate again amidst strict guidelines

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People in a church praying
Worshipers in a Catholic Church

Several worshippers from multiple denominations on the island will once again be given the opportunity to praise their God.

After not being able to converge in a single space, churchgoers will from Saturday, 30th May 2020 flock to their respective places of worship so as to offer their sacrifices.

Following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many churches were forced to shut their doors so as to contain the spread of the dreaded and deadly virus. However, with the easing up of restrictions, the Health Minister, Dr. Irving McIntyre, announced that the authorities have given the green light to churches. However, various guidelines must be strictly adhered to.

“Recommendations have been made for the reopening of churches and places of worship from 30th May 2020 in accordance with the issuance order by the President. The opening is subject to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. Protocols have been discussed and provided to various churches and religious officials,” Dr. McIntyre stated.

Worshippers are expected to sit 6ft apart from each other. However, this restriction does not apply to family members who can all sit together. Additionally, there must be no handshaking and hugging. The usual collection/tithe basket will not be circulated.

In addition to those measures announced by the Government, the Diocese of Roseau has issued its own guidelines to the faithful. In a communiqué sent to the Clergy, specific guidelines are outlined for parishioners as well as the Clergy. Some of the guidelines include:

  1. Each parish should design a seating pattern to maintain proper physical distancing and separate sections must be designated to respond to the needs of particular parishioners.
  2. Hand sanitizer must be available at the entrance of the church, in the sacristy, and near the altar area. Parishioners are strongly encouraged to have their own sanitizers.
  3. Entrance and exit doors must be adequately designated with signs and monitored.
  4. Clergy and Lay Associates should not make physical contact with parishioners as they leave.
  5. Members of the congregation will be ushered to their seats and will be escorted out after the final blessing.
  6. Members of the assembly must wash their hands thoroughly before coming to mass.
  7. All parishioners must wear a mask before entering the church and throughout the mass.
  8. Ushers will monitor the collection baskets as people exit and deposit their donations in the designated area.
  9. Before and after each mass and whenever the church is used, it must be clean. All surfaces that parishioners are likely to touch must be disinfected. All toilets must be sanitized.
  10. Lectors should wear a mask and must try not to touch the ambo or microphone when proclaiming the Word.
  11. Parishioners who are ill and those who have pre-existing medical issues should refrain from attending mass.
  12. Parishioners will be ushered to receive the Body of Christ or it will be brought to them where they are seated.
  13. In regards to the choir, wind instruments should not be used until further notice.
  14. The Clergy is responsible to ensure that these guidelines are strictly observed.

The guidelines also advised that parishes or chapels that cannot adhere to the physical distancing stipulation and sanitization protocols must remain closed.