HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Archdiocese of Hartford issued new guidelines Monday for Mass as COVID-19 infection rates drop and more Connecticut residents get vaccinated.
Effective Saturday, May 22, 2021, the dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will expire and not be renewed.
The dispensation was originally put in place on March 16, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began and weekday and weekend Masses in the Archdiocese were canceled. The cancelation lasted until June 8, 2020, but – out of an abundance of caution – the dispensation was extended through 2020 and 2021.
But as the state reaches over 70% of adults with at least their first dose of the vaccine, the state and the church are reopening toward a ‘new normal.’
In alignment with state guidelines, starting May 19, 2021, parishes within the Archdiocese of Hartford will be able to reopen to 100% capacity “with no need for social distancing, returning to pre-COVID-19 procedures and routines,” the Archdiocese said.
The reopening will take place with the following exceptions:
- Pew barriers and tape, signs, etc. that were previously used to direct the flow of traffic in aisles can be removed.
- Masks remain required for all who enter the church.
- Choirs and musicians can be reintroduced as deemed appropriate by the pastor, and congregational singing is once again allowed with masks remaining on during singing and throughout the liturgy.
- The procedures for distributing Holy Communion will remain in place:
- Ministers of Holy Communion sanitize their hands prior to distributing.
- Both the ministers of Holy Communion and those receiving are to wear masks.
- Communicants will receive the consecrated host in their hand, step to the side, lower their mask, consume the host, replace their mask, and return to their pew.
- Communion on the tongue should continue to be discouraged for the sake of the health of others. For those who continue to insist, they can be given Communion only after everyone else has received it.
- There will still be no distribution of the Precious Blood; this continues to apply to deacons, as well.
The full directives for the Archdiocese of Hartford can be found here: https://archdioceseofhartford.org/new-directives-for-liturgies-in-churches-of-the-archdiocese-of-hartford/