Catholic Diocese of Arlington prepares to partially reopen churches

Starting May 15, Virginia is expected to allow places of worship to reopen at half their normal capacity, as long as local jurisdictions agree.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is planning additional measures to keep people safe from the coronavirus.

“The use of face coverings and hand sterilization are recommended as a critical part of our gradual reintegration,” Bishop Michael Burbidge said in a video message Friday.

A reintegration working group made up of pastors, medical experts, public health professionals and others is helping him decide what other changes or restrictions will be needed.

More details will be released next week.

“Diocesan guidelines will include limiting the number of persons allowed per mass, maintaining social distance and providing for an active cleaning schedule,” Burbidge said.

He cautioned that the ability to partly reopen churches and celebrate mass may vary from parish to parish.

Parishioners who are 60 years old and older and those with underlying health conditions are being asked to consider staying home because they are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Since churches will not yet be able to fully reopen, parishes will be asked to continue to livestream mass.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is composed of 69 parishes, most of them in Northern Virginia.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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