Christ is Risen!
Some states in our diocese have begun to rescind their “shelter in place” quarantine orders. For those states that remain in a “shelter in place” posture the policy in force from 10/23 March, 2020 remains in place, including the clarification regarding “house of worship” exceptions published April 1/14, 2020.
For those states where a “shelter in place” order is rescinded the following modification of the 10/23 March, 2020 policy is approved:
1. Rectors shall comply with local orders and CDC guidelines. The more stringent restrictions shall be obeyed if there is a difference between local orders and CDC guidelines.
2. Rectors may continue to use the existing 10/23 March, 2020 policy if they discern that the lifting of the “shelter in place” could be premature or if they feel that the order in their locality is a politically-motivated decision, and not based on scientific and/or medical expertise. The Diocese can not review each parish's situation, and trusts the local Rectors to protect their flocks.
3. If a “shelter in place” order has been relaxed, Rectors must not exceed local guidelines regarding attendance.
4. The rules for gatherings as published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must be followed, including:
A. No one who is sick, especially with any respiratory symptoms or fever, may be present in the temple. If need be, clergy may continue to visit the ill at home or in the hospital. However, they should exercise caution and are advised to use personal protective equipment.
B. If local authorities insist that masks be worn at any social gatherings, I believe this does not apply to clergy or the singers during services because it is practically impossible to serve or sing in a mask. However, the serving clergy should be limited to a priest and a deacon, standing 6 feet apart. The same applies to the choir. I leave the final decision to the discretion of the Rector.
C. Common sense and discretion should be applied when limiting interaction inside or outside the temple by those who do not live in the same household.
D. Hand sanitizer should be made available throughout the temple so that those who need to clean their hands for any reason during the Divine Services will be able to do so easily and with a minimum of distraction.
11/24 April, 2020
Hieromartyr Antipas of Pergamus