Bishops ask parish priests to consult as they prepare for Alert Level Two

alert level two

The New Zeland Catholic Bishops have suggested that parish priests consult with each other and with their parish councils about how they can provide the sacraments and pastoral care when COVID-19 Alert Level Two is announced.

The bishops believe that each parish will need its own approach to ensure continued the safety of both the priests and the parishioners.

What CONVID-19 Alert Level Two will allow

  • Churches may be open, and Mass may be celebrated, but with no more than 100 people present.
  • Those attending will generally need to be seated a metre apart (families from the same “bubble” will likely be an exception).
  • Records will be needed of each person attending, for possible future contact tracing.
  • Strict hygiene measures will be needed.
  • Weddings and funerals will be allowed in churches, again with a limit of 100 people present.
  • Priests will be able to visit parishioners in their homes to administer the Sacraments and for such other spiritual purposes as sought.

The bishops and the National Liturgy Office are giving urgent consideration as to how Holy Communion should be distributed.

For now, the provisions of their 13 March advice also remain in place: they included:

  • No holy water in fonts;
  • No physical contact during the sign of peace; and
  • Communion under one kind and only on the hand.

The Bishops are looking at these and other issues urgently and with diligence, and intend to provide substantial further guidance early next week.

In their letter, the bishops quote Pope Francis saying that “the time is ripe for “new imagination” allowing the “breath of the Spirit” to open new horizons.

“We know you will apply your wonderful dedication and creativity to how we operate under Alert Level Two, as you have during this crisis to date and do in all matters of your parish.”

  • Read the Bishops’ letter in full
  • Read the Ministry of Health’s Alert Level Two rules relevant to churches
  • Read the Ministry of Health document published on 7 May 2020 in full


  • Supplied: David McLoughlin
    Communications Adviser, NZ Catholic Bishops
    Te Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa
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