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Diocese of Wilmington churches discontinue previous COVID-19 guidance, return to pre-pandemic practices at Mass

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Student Regina Smith distributes Communion during Mass at Padua Academy Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. Dialog photo/Don Blake

The Diocese of Wilmington has discontinued all previous COVID-19 guidance in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland effective as soon as possible in light of easing of restrictions in both states.

“Parishes are still encouraged to practice safety measures that include a consistent sanitizing of common areas, hand sanitizer available at all entrances and support a welcoming environment for those members of your parishes who wish to wear masks,” Msgr. Steven P. Hurley wrote in a message to all priests Feb. 15.

Msgr. Hurley, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia, had advised parishes to tighten restrictions in early January as COVID infection rates were on the rise. He encouraged all attendees to be masked while attending Mass.

In the latest guidance, Msgr. Hurley said all parishes are encouraged to return to or maintain accepted liturgical norms and practices that were in place pre-COVID-19.

“If a parish wishes to maintain any modified practices (such as the sprinkling of ashes or using cotton swaps) due to specific concerns at the parish, please ensure these practices are consistent with what was adopted for Lent and Easter last season,” Msgr. Hurley wrote.

“All decisions concerning these practices will be up to the discretion of the pastor,” he said.

The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday March 2.

“Distribution of the Precious Blood continues to be prohibited. Parishes should also continue to have sanitization readily available if an individual distributing communion believes they made contact with the person’s mouth or saliva.”