Latest Updates on Covid-19
The page below highlights the latest updates in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the reopening of places of public worship, teams of clergy, staff and volunteers have been working hard to enable worshippers to safely return to the celebration of public Mass or in attending private prayer.
The safety of our community remains our priority and this means that not all churches have reopened straight away. At present the Sunday obligation has been lifted until it is safe for us all to gather again and Masses continue to be livestreamed around the diocese.
More details relating to the latest updates on government and Bishops’ Conference guidelines, changes you will see in the Church to ensure your safety and the impact of Coronavirus on Liturgical events can be found below. Click the drop down tabs for further information.
If you have any further queries, you can find the contact details of your parish priest by clicking here or you can email email@example.com
Monday 14th September
Greater Manchester and East Lancashire continue to face greater lockdown restrictions.
If you are attending church with others, then the group you are attending with should not exceed more than six people. This group of six can be made up of people from outside your household, but strict social distancing must be maintained between members of different households at all times.
When travelling to, entering and inside the church, please ensure that you are observing strict social distancing from people not in your household or bubble, and do not gather outside the church.
In Bolton, further restrictions have been implemented by Bolton Council on weddings and funerals – numbers present must not exceed more than 6 people. Otherwise, the number allowed to be present is 30.
Monday 3rd August
Additional lockdown restrictions were placed on Greater Manchester and East Lancashire on 31 July.
The guidance remains that you may attend a place or worship, where Covid-19 secure guidance is implemented, but you must continue to socially distance from people outside of your household.
From 8th August the Government has announced that face-coverings will be mandatory in indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with people they do not know. This now includes churches.
Those that are exempt for medical reasons or children under 11 remain exempt in these settings
Face-coverings can be removed by readers as they read the scriptures. The Priest and, if used, Eucharistic Ministers need only wear a face-covering when off the sanctuary and distributing Communion, which must be in the hand.
Tuesday 23rd June
Some churches in our diocese have been reopening for private prayer and an announcement was made by the Prime Minister stating that some restrictions on public worship will be eased from 4 July. Our community’s safety remains our priority. In this diocese it will mean that churches will open, but not immediately.
Bishop John said: “Very few churches in this Diocese will open for Mass next Sunday. That is because there are numerous rules and regulations and conditions that need to be in place to do with social distancing, cleansing, the stewarding of people and indeed the Church must be deep cleaned after every service. That is going to rely on any number of volunteers and not all churches will be able to meet those conditions by next weekend. And let us be clear about this too, even those few churches, and others will follow on as quickly as possible, even those few churches will have a much reduced capacity.”
We need to be mindful that our churches will look and feel different as they begin to reopen. These changes are essential to ensure the safety of all our people.
The video below illustrates what some of our churches may look like as they begin to open for private prayer. Churches are continuing to livestream Holy Mass.
Some of our churches are beginning to reopen for public and private prayer, but liturgical events will continue to be impacted. The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.
Celebrations of Holy Mass
In line with the government’s easing of restrictions on public worship, churches are able to resume public worship and the Holy Mass from 4 July with various practicalities put into place. Safety remains our priority and each parish will open in its own time. Bishop John has encouraged us to do three things:
- When more churches begin to open for the public celebration of Mass, maybe we might think about attending a weekday Mass to help ease Sunday capacity
- That any elderly person, anyone with any frailty or underlying medical condition, shouldn’t consider trying to attend Mass at this time
- That if your own parish church is not opening for the public celebration of Mass you wait until it does so without looking for other churches which will have their own restricted capacity for their parishioners.
In addition Bishop John reminded us that there is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass at this time. That obligation will return in the future when we can gather freely in our churches again.
If you do choose to attend Mass in your parish, the experience may feel and look slightly different for a while as numbers may be limited, social distancing must be adhered to and collections and processions will be limited to prevent the spread of infection.
Baptisms are able to take place but there are still restrictions in place on the number of people able to be present. Please contact your parish priest for further information.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is able to resume in some parishes but will be conducted differently to ensure that it is done in as safe a way as possible. Confession can now take place outdoors or inside, in an open space. At this time the use of traditional confessionals is not encouraged.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered on a parish by parish basis when it is safe to do so. If you have any further questions, please contact your parish priest.
First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion
These celebrations will be postponed until a time that allows for families and friends to gather safely within our churches.
The celebrations of Confirmation will be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can resume public worship.
Matrimony is now permitted but there continue to be restrictions on how many can safely gather to celebrate this.
If you have any questions, please contact your parish priest.
Anointing of the Sick
No pastoral visits should be made to people who are self-isolating with Covid 19 symptoms until the isolation period ends. However, priests can offer phone support.
Please contact your Parish Priest to discuss how they can best offer support.
Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control
If you need to arrange a funeral please contact your parish priest as soon as possible. There continue to be restrictions on the amount of people who can safely gather for a Requiem Mass.
Our parishes are continuing to livestream the Mass, giving you options if you cannot get into church yourself. You can find these on Churchservices.tv, along with the Cathedral from Salford Livestream, by clicking here.
We are continuing to compile resources for Catholics to access livestreaming of Masses, prayers and resources at home. The list of parishes continuing to stream Mass can be found here, and resources can be found by clicking here.
Bishop John has also produced a video series on how we can build a Church at Home. You can view these videos here.
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to be a rapidly evolving situation. The latest national updates can be found on the Gov.uk website