SACRAMENTO, Calif — The Diocese of Sacramento announced May 29 it will resume in-person Mass starting June 14.
The reopening of churches in Amador, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties is to come with big changes, including reducing capacity and encouraging parishioners to wear face coverings inside.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended but conditions have improved sufficiently so that we can begin to offer Mass and other sacraments in a cautious and responsible manner," said Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto.
Soto said parishes that are ready to reopen are allowed to begin offering Mass June 8 ahead of the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 14.
The Sacramento Diocese closed churches to the public in March after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order to mitigate coronavius spread.
Since then, churches across the state — including Catholic churches — have switched to holding online services.
Others, however, have protested Newsom's rules, choosing to stay open and making local law enforcement force them to shut down during the public health order.
Some have even sued the state, saying that the public health orders violate constitutional rights. Federal judges in California ruled against the lawsuit.
Since March 18, Masses have been celebrated and livestreamed. Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto welcomed the easing of state and county restrictions and the development of safeguards to once again make public celebrations possible.
When the churches reopen, the diocese said churches will limit the capacity for people who can attend in-person Mass to 25% or no more than 100 people including the priest, deacons and other ministries.
The diocese is also asking older people and those with underlying health conditions and over the age of 65 to stay home instead of coming to Mass.
Other changes include:
- Thorough, frequent sanitization of churches, including pews, door handles, railings, etc.
- Shared items, such as hymnals, will not be available
- Hand sanitizer is to be made available
- Social distancing between people who do not live together
- Seating and entrances and exits may be different than before
- Socializing after Mass should be avoided
- No singing in the liturgy
- Priests can choose not to greet parishioners after Mass
The Sacramento diocese also reminded parishioners to stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus and notify the parish if the parishioner contracts the virus.
Bishop Soto asks churchgoers to check-in with their local parish for specific times and changes for Mass after June 8.
"As we adapt to these changes, we are all called to greater charity and understanding during this transition," Bishop Soto said.
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