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John Snyder
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John Snyder
Church News

Catholic Church bans holy water and sharing hymn books to protect against coronavirus as cases surge

by Heather Preston

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned against the use of holy water in services to protect against the further spread of coronavirus in at-risk areas.

Updated guidelines from the Catholic Bishops' Conference state that parishes where a case of COVID-19 may be linked to the local community should take increased measures to prevent the further spread of the virus.

So far 51 people in the UK have caught the infection, while global confirmed cases have risen to over 90,000.

In response, the Catholic Church has tightened its measures on communion to suspend its distribution by both the tongue and the Chalice and limiting the wafer to be given on the hand only.

Last month, only those with cold and flu symptoms were advised to refrain from receiving both kinds of communion.

The updated measures also call for the removal of holy water vessels from church buildings and the banning of hand shaking in displaying the sign of peace.

The sharing of hymn books has been stopped and collection plates will no longer be passed amongst congregation members.

Those vulnerable to infection have also been advised to not to attend "large parish gatherings" while those attending Mass are being advised to sanitize their hands as they enter the church, as part of measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Post service refreshments have also been suspended at large gatherings as the use of mugs, utensils, biscuits could be touched by multiple parishioners while members of the public have been strongly advised against kissing or physically touching religious relics or symbolic objects.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock has called the situation facing the country as "increasingly serious" and has told MPs it's becoming more likely we'll see widespread transmission in the UK.

Ministers are planning to call back retired NHS workers if they need to while police might be reduced to just dealing with very serious crimes.

The Prime Minister has said there's currently no need for school closures, travel restrictions or bans on large gatherings.
 

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