BALTIMORE — The Archdiocese of Baltimore has ordered the clergy to suspend the sign of peace at Masses and stop offering consecrated wine as a precaution for the coronavirus.
Archbishop William E. Lori announced on Tuesday that parishioners should forgo shaking hands and instead greet their neighbor with a bow and "peace be with you". Priests and ministers will still distribute the host, but parishes will stop offering consecrated wine for the time being.
Parishioners always have the option to receive Communion in their hands, rather than on their tongue and ministers are advised to take care not to touch the tongue or hand of communicants.
Ministers of Holy Communion will also be using hand sanitizer.
Archbishop Lori said those who are sick with contagious ailments are encouraged to stay home and not attend church services. Church leaders emphasized that missing Mass because of an illness is not a sin.
Recorded services are available via radio, television and online.
The archdiocese said maintenance workers will step up efforts at parishes to disinfect areas that frequently come into contact with hands, such as tops of pews.
The archbishop also advised clergy to follow general guidelines from the CDC including:
- Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Practice good health habits
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Get a flu shot. While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infection, it can help keep you healthy during the flu season.
Those guidelines are on how to prevent the flu, which has some symptoms and transmission methods similar to COVID-19.