DC-area Catholic churches can reopen for public masses with restrictions

Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Washington will be allowed to reopen for public masses, but the gatherings will be extremely small.

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory has authorized parishes in D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to resume public masses, according to a news release.

However, attendance will continue to be limited, possibly as few as 10 people at a time, depending on each local jurisdiction’s restrictions guidelines.

“When the current restrictions are eased and we are able to gather for Mass again, it is important for all of us to understand that things will not immediately ‘go back to normal,'” Gregory said.

Those who choose to attend are expected to maintain social distancing, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer when you enter a church. Hymnals may be removed and replaced with paper aids instead.

Liturgical changes that were placed during the quarantine, including no exchanging the sign of peace and no holy water fountains, will continue as churches begin reopening. The archdiocese is encouraging parishes to continue livestreaming and recording daily masses for those who cannot attend. Read the rest of the guidelines here.

“Please keep in mind, we will all experience challenges and frustration as we navigate through these weeks and months ahead,” Gregory said.

The Archdiocese of Washington suspended all public masses in mid-March.

In late May, parishes in the southern Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s were allowed to resume public masses. In those areas, attendance must be limited to 50% of a church’s capacity.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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