As the stay-at-home order is lifted in Carbon County, the Diocese of Allentown will begin taking steps to reopen churches there to the limited participation of the faithful.
In the Yellow Phase, the six parishes in Carbon County will be permitted to reopen indoor Masses, with seating restrictions, on June 1. They also will be permitted to celebrate larger Masses in parking lots and other outdoor areas while maintaining proper social distance.
Guidelines will be in place to ensure that if the county’s faithful choose to attend Mass and other Sacraments in person, they can do so with the assurance that all reasonable steps have been taken to protect their health.
Priests are being trained in new protocols, including how to distribute Holy Communion safely. Precautions will be taken to ensure that the distribution can occur reverently, but also in a manner that protects the health of the people involved.
Mass attendance will be voluntary in the yellow phase. Those who do not feel safe, or who have compromising health conditions, should not attend. The dispensation from the Mass obligation will remain in place throughout the Diocese until the green phase, and online livestream Masses will continue.
The Diocese’s main priority is the safety of the faithful, and the safety of priests who will be celebrating Mass, officiating at weddings and funerals, and administering other Sacraments.
The faithful will be required to wear masks when attending in person. Strict social distancing will be required, and ushers will help ensure that protocol. Mass attendance indoors will be restricted to 25 percent of a church’s seating capacity.
There will be no hymnals, to help prevent the spread of the virus. Only certain entrances and exits will be in use, and the faithful will be dismissed by pew to limit large gatherings after Mass.
Parishes are securing cleaning supplies and sanitizer. Holy Water fonts will remain empty. For Baptisms, weddings and funerals, the participation limit also is 25 percent of the church’s seating capacity. All other counties in the Diocese remain in the red phase, so Masses with congregations remain suspended.