BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — This weekend, many religious leaders in Massachusetts are holding their first in-person services since non-essential business closures began in March.
That includes allowing a maximum of 40 percent capacity inside, maintaining 6 feet of distance between those who don't live together, requiring face-coverings, and sanitizing areas in between services.
For churches within the Archdiocese of Boston, there will be some additional safety guidelines for church-goers.
In a "Welcome Back" video posted online, Cardinal Sean O'Malley detailed the added steps every member should follow, like not congregating before or after services, and "bring[ing] your own means to access the Sunday readings."
Cardinal O'Malley said there will also be a few changes during Mass. That includes changes to the opening procession, the use of hymnals, congregational singing, and the sign of peace which will be temporarily suspended. There will also be some additional steps to receiving Holy Communion.
"The priest will not wear a face covering while in the Sanctuary, but he will set the Host for distribution to the side for the congregation's safety." said Cardinal O'Malley. "These alterations have been made taking into account your spiritual and physical well-being."
While Boston churches are allowing members to attend in-person, many other religious leaders have made it clear their churches, synagogues, and mosques will remain physically closed, and will continue streaming live services online.
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts says its congregations will not return to their churches before July 1. The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center says ISB Cambridge and ISBCC will also remain closed "at least until the end of May."
The United Church of Christ in Southern New England says "in person worship in buildings will need to be suspended through at least the end of the summer." The Boston Synagogue announced it would continue to hold virtual services at least over Memorial Weekend.
(Photo: Getty Images)