Coronavirus Guidance from the Diocesan Office

The following are mandatory guidelines for parishes, monasteries, and all diocesan institutions in the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America, ROCOR.

These were approved by His Eminence Archbishop Peter March 1/14, 2020 and are in force immediately.

Archpriest Gregory Joyce

Diocesan Secretary

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1. The seriousness and risk of this outbreak should not be underestimated. We all have a moral obligation to take what steps we can to reduce the spread of infection. If too many people get sick at the same time the hospitals will be overwhelmed and the death rate will increase. Our actions to slow the spread of the disease will save lives.

2. The best step everyone can take is to practice social distancing. Everyone in church should keep a reasonable distance from everyone else.

3. Anyone over the age of 70 should very seriously consider staying home, since they are at a much higher risk of death from coronavirus. Anyone who shows symptoms, or was exposed to an infected person, or is infirm should stay home. Arrangement can be made for clergy to provide confession and communion to the infirm and those choosing to stay at home.

4. Sanitizer and additional handwashing stations should be readily available.

5. During this time, the faithful are not obligated to kiss a priest's hand when receiving a blessing.

6. The faithful should not feel that they must kiss public icons. At the same time, we should keep in mind that all icons are miraculous, and that many martyrs died in the struggle with iconoclasm and that we, as Orthodox Christians hold icons in high esteem. Each of the faithful may decide, during this time of pandemic, how best to approach this question.

7. Parishioners should not shake hands or hug.

8. Only antidorion will be provided after communion. Wine will not be provided unless in paper disposable cups which must be burned afterwards.

9. Clergy visiting the elderly and sick must be especially cautious not to become a vector for transmission. Clergy should bring their own masks and sanitizer. If possible, they should provide masks for the sick to wear, so that the cleric is at a reduced risk of infection.

10. Clergy and parishioners who have been exposed must self-quarantine for fourteen days.

11. Each parish sisterhood should increase the frequency and visibility of their cleaning regime both during and outside the times of the Divine Services.

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