Guidelines for Waterford mass-goers following coronavirus outbreak
The HSE has called for “extreme caution” to limit the spread of the virus, with suspending shaking hands and the use of holy water fonts at religious services advised.
Waterford parishioners were advised of the restrictions at Mass over the weekend.
“Shaking hands while exchanging the sign of peace in Christian religious services involves a low risk of spreading the virus especially if members of the congregation who are unwell do not attend religious services while they are ill,” the HSE has said.
“However, because Covid-19 is a new disease that has not been seen in people before, we need to exercise extreme caution to limit the spread of the virus. Current information suggests that Covid-19 can spread easily between people and could be spread from an infected person even before they develop any symptoms. For these reasons we suggest that physical interaction during religious services, including the sign of peace, should be suspended.
“For Christian religious services, the priest may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative sign of peace that does not involve hand contact (such as smile/ nod/ bow) if so wished.
“The practice of shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/gatherings should be suspended for both religious leaders/clergy and laity.”
The HSE has said everyone administering holy communion should wash their hands or use alcohol based hand gel before beginning. Holy communion should be administered into the hands only and not onto the tongue.
“To minimise the risk of spread of infection, the use of communal vessels should be suspended. For example, during holy communion in Christian religious services only the celebrant should drink from the chalice. No one else should drink from the chalice – this includes other priests, ministers of the Eucharist and members of the congregation.
“Alternatives to direct sharing of the chalice should also be avoided including:
1. Intinction, i.e. the communion wafer is dipped in the chalice and administered into the hand the communion wafer is administered into the communicant’s hand and they dip it into the chalice.
2. Distribution of communion wine through individual small cups.”
The HSE has said parochial activities and social religious gatherings on church premises should follow sensible practices, including hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene as described in this guidance. “Posters/notices formally stating any guidance or changes in practice should be clearly displayed and appropriate leaflets should be circulated.”