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Hundreds of Norfolk churches given Coronavirus advice

Hundreds of Anglican and Catholic churches across Norfolk have been given guidance on precautions to take in light of the current fast-developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Keith Morris reports.

The Anglican Diocese of Norwich is following current Government advice for churches. On its website it says that churches should already be following best-hygiene practices that include advising parishioners with coughs and sneezes to refrain from handshaking during The Peace and to receive Communion in one kind only. At present, there is no Government advice that suggests the use of the Common Cup should be suspended.
It is also best practice for churches to have hand-sanitisers available for parishioners to use and in addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitiser.

Intinction (the action of dipping the bread in the wine at a Eucharist so that a communicant receives both together) is not recommended, as this represents an infection transmission route as well as a risk to those with certain allergies.
More details here.

Catholic Bishop Alan Hopes has outlined precautionary measures to be taken at Masses across the Diocese of East Anglia from this weekend. They include:

  • Everyone being more attentive than usual to the normal hygienic routine of washing hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water.
  • Holy Water Stoups will remain empty for the time being.
  • The Sign of Peace will be omitted at Mass.
  • Holy Communion will be given under one kind only and the Host will be placed on the hand. During these next few months Holy Communion should not be received on the tongue since there is a greater danger of passing on the infection.
  • Both the Priest and any Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who is assisting him will wash their hands both before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.

Bishop Alan wrote: “I want to thank you for your co-operation and once again to emphasise that these are precautionary measures only and will be removed as soon as the Chief Medical Officer of the Government gives the all clear.

“Please keep in your prayers all who have been infected across the world by this virus and those who are struggling greatly. Pray for those who have died and for their grieving families. And pray too for all doctors and nursing staff who are involved in supporting and seeking to heal those who are infected. Pray too that all of us may assist and support one another during this challenging time.”

A set of guidelines have been issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and the latest version of the guide is available to download here.

The UK Government has released its information for the public on the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms. The latest advice can be viewed here.

Pictured above, Bishop Alan Hopes celebrates Mass at St John's Cathedral in Norwich.


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