Rome, Italy, May 7, 2020 / 10:00 am
Dioceses in Italy can resume the celebration of public Masses beginning Monday, May 18, under conditions issued Thursday by the head of Italy’s bishops and by government officials.
The protocol for Mass and other liturgical celebrations states that churches must limit the number of people present – ensuring a one-meter (three feet) distance – and congregants must wear face masks. The church must also be cleaned and disinfected between celebrations.
For the distribution of the Eucharist, priests and other ministers of Holy Communion are asked to wear gloves and masks covering both the nose and mouth and to avoid contact with communicants’ hands.
The Diocese of Rome suspended public Masses March 8 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Several dioceses in hard-hit northern Italy, including Milan and Venice, had suspended public liturgies as early as the last week of February.
All public religious celebrations, including baptisms, funerals, and weddings, were prohibited during the Italian government’s lockdown, which went into effect March 9.
Funerals were allowed again beginning May 4. Public baptisms and weddings may now also resume in Italy starting May 18.
The protocol issued May 7 lays out the general directions for complying with health measures, such as the indication of a maximum capacity in a church based on maintaining at least one-meter distance between people.
Access to the church must be regulated to control the number present, it says, and the number of Masses can be increased to ensure social distancing.