Mass can be celebrated again but with conditions

100 may gather

On Monday the prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that beginning Friday up to 100 may gather in places of worship.

Following the prime minister’s announcement  Mass –  restricted to 100 people –  is able to resume from this Friday at noon.

On Monday night Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton and New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference Secretary, said the bishops will issue a Pastoral Letter on Tuesday.

He said each parish will decide what is manageable and safe for their community including whether any particular weekday or Sunday Mass resumes.

The guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion and health practices during a pandemic remain in place.

Lowe said not all parishioners will be able to attend Mass because of the restrictions of numbers.

Others will not attend due to health reasons, concerns or fears. For these reasons,  the dispensation of attendance at Sunday Mass continues.

Live-streamed Masses will continue to be offered for these people.

Last week the New Zealand Catholic Bishops wrote to the Prime Minister urging the Cabinet to raise the limit on numbers allowed at religious services to at least 100.

Their strongly-worded letter followed the New Zealand Police issuing guidelines saying religious services are allowed under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 as long as people sit in multiple groups of ten.

The limit has now been raised but the other guidelines for gatherings at Alert Level 2 remain in force.

Uncertainty remains about what these guidelines are.

Official COVID-19 website, which has not been updated since Monday’s press conference, states that all public venues:

  • Must keep high hygiene standards
  • Must keep records to enable contact tracing and manage their numbers to ensure that:
  • Every individual or group of 10 is kept 1 metre apart
  • No group has more than 10 people.

According to the most recent police guidelines issued on 22 May:

If everyone kept 2m apart at any religious service it would not be a gathering.

If that is not the case:

  • People must keep 2m apart but family or whanau who reside together in their household may remain within 2 metres of each other.
  • If the venue size allows, multiple groups of 10 can be present so long as each group remained two metres apart. This rule does not apply to funerals and tangihanga.
  • Appropriate contact tracing needs to be kept except for gatherings of friends and whanau
  • People must comply at all times with the distancing restrictions and cannot, for example, mingle more widely at the end of a service.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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