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The following is a message from Archbishop Melissa Skelton:

Greetings, people of the Diocese of New Westminster I want to continue to offer updates and further guidance to all of you as the COVID-19 outbreak increases and progresses, and as more information becomes available to assist us all in guarding our health, the health of other parishioners and the health of members of the communities where we live.

On February 6, I sent a general communique to the Diocese and last week I sent out a Pastoral Directive to clergy on specific practices that we must now follow in the administration of communion.

Given the rise in cases in the Province, I want to give additional mandatory guidelines to all in the Diocese about the next level of behaviours we must adopt at this time. This comes in response to the latest update from B.C. health officials which you can view here.

I also want to highlight what we might do to prepare for a possible time when we would suspend gathering in our churches (worship and other meetings) for a period of time. Notification of this will come from my office. Please know that it’s very challenging to stay current on this emerging situation. We’re doing our best to give you the best guidelines we can as this situation changes.

Mandatory Guidelines:

  1. Continue to emphasize basic healthy practices: washing hands, sneezing or coughing into our sleeve, not touching our faces, using hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol, disposing of tissues after using, not coming to gatherings or visiting others when sick.
  2. Withdraw the Common Cup entirely for a time.
  3. Sanitize hands prior to taking the bread at communion.
  4. Greet people with a smile and a wave rather than shake hands, hug, or kiss.
  5. Exchange the Peace through looks and gestures only. Keep a 1 metre distance whenever possible.
  6. Suspend the practice of sending out lay Eucharistic visitors to take communion to care homes or to the homebound.
  7. Set up offering in single location rather than pass the offering plate.
  8. Coffee Hour will have to wait until things get better so as not to spread germs through food or refreshments.