CATHOLIC parishes in the Diocese of Down and Connor which includes mid-Antrim have been advised to suspend the ‘Sign of Peace’ during Mass in response to coronavirus.
An announcement on the diocese website says: ‘In the light of advice from the Public Health Agency and today’s communication from the Irish Episcopal Conference Secretariat the Bishop would ask you to:
Suspend the Sign of Peace
During Mass only the celebrant should receive from the Chalice
Holy Communion should be administered into the hands only and NOT onto the tongue
Holy water fonts should be drained and not used
The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands with particular care before and after distributing Holy Communion.
Parishes are asked to consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser gels / facilities at all entrance and exit doors to the church and also to ensure the regular cleaning of surfaces in the church that people touch such as door handles, tables etc.
The church says the attached links will provide further information regarding best sanitary practices:
The website added: ‘These measures are preventative and should not in any way raise any existing levels of concern.
‘Best practice in all circumstances at this time of year should be followed in accordance with the Public Health Agency’s advice and normal levels of hygiene.
‘All parishioners should be advised to take the usual and necessary precautions before attending regular services in Churches open to the public, such as:
Washing / sanitising hands after coughing or sneezing
Use of disposable handkerchiefs
Coughing into the crook of the elbow and not into the palms of hands etc.’