Diocesan Guidelines

 

New public safety diocesan guidelines

The Diocese of Camden and its neighboring Catholic Dioceses in New Jersey have announced the relaxation of restrictions that were initially imposed due to COVID-19.

Last week, the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey lifted the dispensation of the Sunday and Holy Days Mass obligation, beginning on Saturday, June 5, 2021, and Sunday, June 6, 2021, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

This obligation does not apply to those who are ill; those who have reason to believe that they were recently exposed to the coronavirus or another serious or contagious illness; those who are confined to their home, a hospital, or nursing facility; or those with serious underlying health conditions. 

In the Diocese of Camden, new guidelines affecting the life of the Catholic Community of South Jersey include:

Liturgical celebrations

Beginning on Friday, May 28th, those participating in Mass, who are vaccinated against COVID-19, are no longer required to wear masks. Those who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks in accord with CDC guidelines. In addition, all social distancing requirements are lifted for celebrations that take place in the church(es). 

Beginning on Friday, June 4th, parishes may return to full capacity for seating. It is recommended that a section of pews be designated for those who would prefer to keep a greater distance. All ministries may return to full service, although altar servers under the age of 12 should wear masks since they are not yet eligible for vaccination. Ushers may take up the offertory collection and the presentation of the gifts of bread and wine is to be resumed. The invitation to share the Sign of Peace is likewise restored — it is not necessary that the faithful shake hands as there are other ways to offer the Sign of Peace. The distribution of Holy Communion is to be returned to its proper place within the Communion Rite, but the Precious Blood is not to be distributed. Parishes must continue to be vigilant about cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

In an abundance of caution — priests, deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion should not only wash their hands before and after Mass, but should use hand sanitizer immediately before the distribution of Holy Communion. 

Parish meetings

Beginning on May 28th, those vaccinated are not required to wear masks for indoor meetings nor are they required to maintain social distancing. The same recommendations for Mass apply to those not vaccinated. Beginning on June 4th, all indoor limits for meetings are lifted.

Outdoor events

All limits on outdoor gatherings were lifted on May 19th and beginning on May 28th, all social distancing requirements are likewise lifted. Masks are not required for those vaccinated.  Those who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks.

Schools

Changes to requirements for mask wearing and social distancing that will occur on May 28th and June 4th do not apply to normal school activities undertaken during the school day. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors to a school campus are required to wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot social distance where possible. Elementary and high school baccalaureate and graduation celebrations that occur inside a church should adhere to recommendations for Mass. Those that occur outdoors should adhere to the recommendations for outdoor events.

Food services

Restrictions on food service and beverage stations have been lifted. The recommendation remains, where possible, self-service should be avoided. 

There is flexibility depending on the nature of the group and the percentage of persons vaccinated. The smaller the group and the more closely related they are, the safer it is to have self-service stations.

Hand sanitizer should be readily available and those serving at a buffet or beverage station should wear both masks and gloves.

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