EDMONTON -- New guidelines issued by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Alberta Tuesday will allow congregants to take their first steps back to church for mass.

"I'm confident that the guidelines that the bishops have put together will ensure that not only the safety of parishioners but also the reverant celebration of the eucharist,” Archbishop Richard Smith told the media Tuesday, “which is so central to our catholic way of life."

The new guidelines include:

  • Limiting the total number of participants at each mass to 50, or fewer if that is required to ensure physical distancing
  • Asking attendees to answer a series of health and travel-related questions as recommended by Alberta Health Services
  • Recording contact information of attendees for the purpose of contact tracing if necessary
  • Sanitizing hands upon entry and exit
  • Requiring masks for all staff, volunteers and communicants
  • Observing physical distancing throughout the celebration
  • Extra cleaning of the church between masses

Archbishop Richard Smith

Congregants will be able to receive Holy Communion but a mask will have to be worn by both parties.

“They'll be breaking the physical distance requirement to do that obviously. That's why both parties have to wear the mask,” said the Archbishop. Then they’ll “put their hand out, the host will be placed on their hand, the person will then step away to require the recommended distance then take their mask and receive and put the mask back on and go to their place." 

However, singing during mass will not be permitted as it could spread respiratory droplets associated with COVID-19.

The Archbishop says this is the first step toward getting back to normal weekend mass and that all precautions need to be taken.

"It's just a wonderful, wonderful place to come for a beautiful celebration of worship which is the heart of the Catholic life so I'm not the only one that wants to get back to that,” he said. “We all do but we have to be responsible and take those steps that are necessary and being vigilant at every step to make sure that we can get back to that in good order and in due time."

Attendees must bring their own mask if they want to receive communion.