NYC Catholic churches will be at 100% capacity this weekend

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New York City’s Catholic churches are returning to full capacity this weekend, after the state lifted most coronavirus restrictions amid rising vaccination rates and plunging viral infections.

“It is a good day,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who oversees the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese.

“Our churches are at full capacity once again, though we continue to keep restrictions in place knowing there are people yet to be vaccinated. We are not giving up our guard and as a community, it is very important that we continue to provide the safest environment possible for all to worship.”

*Brooklyn and Queens churches may open to full 100% capacity. There is no longer a need to rope off a pew between the occupied rows.”

DiMarzio was one of the religious leaders who sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state last year over capacity restrictions imposed on houses of worship. The US Supreme Court issued a ruling last November temporarily blocking such capacity limits on prayer facilities located in designated COVID-19 hotspots.

DiMarzio did say that social distancing is still required for parishioners who are not vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated parishioners should distance themselves from others who are not members of the same household,” he said.

He added, “masks are still mandatory in church for those who are not vaccinated. However, everyone is encouraged to wear masks while in church.”

The diocese is relying on an honor system among parishioners regarding vaccination status.

DiMarzio said many activities during Mass will resume such as reading from hymnals and missalettes while lectors can read from the main pulpit.

There will still be restrictions for Holy Communion. The host will be distributed to parishioners but the sharing of wine from a common chalice will not be offered.

Hand basket collections for donations will resume and choirs with vaccinated members can operate as normal.

Meanwhile, the New York Archdiocese that covers Catholic churches in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and northern suburbs is similarly relaxing restrictions on in-person worship during Mass, said spokesman Joseph Zwilling.

He said pastors will be given flexibility based on the size of the churches and concerns of parishioners.

Zwilling too said parishioners will receive the host but there will be no sharing of wine from a common chalice during Holy Communion.

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