Mass celebration can resume in Belgium since 8 June. Nevertheless, we need to observe a number of measures in order to meet the necessary hygienic standards. For that purpose, the Belgian Conference of Bishops issued a protocol to guide liturgical celebrations during this period. Below is an extract from this protocol of measures to be adhered to during each celebration. The full protocol is available in French at the of the article.
- Social distancing is maintained.
- The ministers of religion and the sick faithful remain at home. Symptoms range from moderate to severe respiratory disease accompanied by fever, cough and difficulty breathing. More info on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/
- The use of mouth masks by ministers of worship and worshipers before and after celebrations is highly recommended.
Measures to be observed
- Maintaining the greatest possible distance (social distance), the minimum distance between people within the framework of social distance being 1.5 meters.
- The obligatory surface by faithful / minister of worship in the church
- Minimum 10 m2 per participant
- Minimum distance of 3 meters between the priest and the faithful
- Maximum 100 people present per church building
- The maximum number of participants authorized is displayed at the entrance to the church and communicated through the usual channels (Sunday / Cathobel). For our church the maximum capacity is 78 persons (including priest)
- The parish order service ensures that the maximum capacity is not exceeded
- The use of a mouth mask before and after entering the church building is recommended.
Rules for the church building
- If possible limit to 1 entrance door and another door for the exit.
- Leave the door intended for entry into the church building and that for the exit open before and after the celebration in order to improve ventilation and reduce contact with doors and door handles.
- Disinfect all chairs beforehand.
- Implement the social distance of 1.5 meters by making a row of chairs inaccessible in the public area (physical barrier, prohibition sign or cord) or by (re) arranging the rows to respect this distance.
- In order to ensure that each object is only touched by one person during the celebration:
- we limit ourselves to one reader per ambon and per microphone;
- the acolytes are limited to carrying the candle;
- if the deacon touches the evangelist, he must be the only one.
- The distance between the cantors and the first faithful is at least 5 meters.
- No choral song can be performed until further notice.
- Take special care in cleaning and washing the objects used: altar cloth, altar cloth, chalice, …
Before the celebration
- Bring the faithful family by family (people living under one roof) into the church and let others wait outside at a safe distance from each other.
- The parish order service ensures that there is no gathering at the entrance to the church.
- The parish order service ensures that the maximum capacity is not exceeded.
- Provision of hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance to the church and the sacristy. Everyone entering the church disinfects their hands.
- Establish the one-way trip to guide visitors to the entrance and exit of the church through signage. If this is not possible, establish priority rules.
- The faithful take their places in the church, first occupying the places furthest from the entrance. The people closest to the exit leave the church first.
- Participants are reminded that people living under one roof can sit next to each other. People who do not live under the same roof must leave (the distance of) at least two unoccupied seats to the left and right of their seat.
- Books or booklets (song books, mass books, prayer books) are removed.
- The books of intentions are removed from the church.
- If necessary, a single-use printed sheet can be distributed securely or placed on the chairs. After the celebration, it will be taken home or thrown into a box that will be destroyed. (No second use).
During the celebration
- No collection, but possibility of depositing contributions at the back of the church
- We do not join hands during Our Father to people who do not live under the same roof
- No handshake, kissing or other contact when giving the sign of peace between people not living under the same roof.
- Only the president drinks from the chalice
Distribution of the holy communion
- Fewest ministers possible to distribute holy communion
- The celebrant leaves freedom by inviting to spiritual communion and explains that he will disinfect his hands before and after communion.
- The celebrant also explains that he will only speak the body of Christ once and that the one who receives communion will respond inwardly Amen.
- In the event of the distribution of individual communion, the following rules apply:
- the parish order service is responsible for carrying out the communion safely
- the person distributing the communion must disinfect their hands and wear an oral mask.
- the person who distributes the communion and the one who receives it maintain a good distance by stretching each arm to the maximum
- the person who distributes the communion respectfully drops the host into the outstretched hand of the one who receives it (without touching the hand of the latter)
- Communion on the language is not allowed
- the faithful go back to the front in a row by an alley and return by another alley. They always respect the prescribed distance of 1.50 meters
- if the distance of 1.5 meters cannot be respected, the faithful who do not wish to receive communion also join the queue and return, following the queue in their place in the same row, so that everyone takes their place.
After the celebration
- The parish order service takes care to avoid gatherings inside and outside the church.
- The celebrant does not personally greet the faithful on leaving the church.