Guidance Catholic Bishops of England and Wales

15 Mar, 2020 | Coronavirus

The global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a fast-evolving situation. We are currently at Stage 2 of our guidance.

This is because the current status is:

A number of cases in local communities or a case specifically linked to a parish community

The key things for parishes to do under these circumstances are:

1. It is likely you will need to suspend distribution under both kinds (the host to be given on the hand only).

a. When giving communion in the hand seek to ensure you place the host in the hand of the recipient in such a way that you do not touch their hands.

2. Suspend the physical sign of peace

3. Remove holy water stoups

4. Public veneration of relics and the Cross on Good Friday should NOT be by kissing or physically touching them

5. Advise those most vulnerable (elderly, people with weakened immune systems and long term conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease) to refrain from large parish gatherings and stay at home.

6. Cease use of shared hymn books and missals which could help transmit the virus

7. Ask everyone attending Mass to sanitise their hands as they come into church using sanitized gel dispensers (make these available in porches or entrances).

8. Ensure everyone maintains good hygiene especially at Mass and parish gatherings

a. The best way of protecting us from spread is still for everyone to use universal good hygiene, which will effectively disrupt spread of the virus. So display the public information poster attached, which states:

i. Catch it – sneeze into a tissue

ii. Bin it – bin the tissue

iii. Kill it – wash your hands with soap and water

iv. Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your handsCatch it, Bin it, Kill it – PosterDownload

9. Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from attending liturgical, public events and not to attend the sacrament of reconciliation (Confession) if symptomatic (A person may just have an ordinary cold but it’s important to ensure a precautionary approach).

10. Ensure very regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly (e.g. ideally clean door handles before and after every Mass)

11. Do not pass the collection plate around

12. Ensure ministers of the Eucharist sanitise their hands before and after distributing communion (we should be doing this anyway as a matter of course). This can be done by washing hands discreetly before proceeding to the sanctuary or using good quality hand gel discreetly.

a. Remember to use good hand washing and gel use technique. You can find more here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/ and a poster here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/resources/posters/en/

13. When visiting parishioners at home, wash hands before giving the sacraments. No pastoral visits to people who are self-isolating until isolation ends. However do offer phone support.

14. Visits to people in care homes or Hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.

15. Suspend catering (teas, coffees etc) at large parish gatherings where multiple people touch mugs, utensils, biscuits etc.

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