BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33)(FOX 44) – When the stay-at-home order expires this Friday, churches will be among the businesses set to reopen with conditions in place.
In a press conference, Monday, Governor John Bel Edwards advised churches to reopen at 25 percent capacity. All parishioners attending must sit six feet apart, unless they live in the same household. He also said that anyone attending mass must wear a face mask. Michael Duca, Bishop of the Baton Rouge Diocese, says that these changes will take time to implement.
” This is like a grand experiment in many ways,” Bishop Duca says. “We’re trying to see how we can gather, without spreading the virus unnecessarily.”
The biggest challenge is making sure everyone gets the Sunday morning experience without leaving any parishoners out. Right now, some churches, like St. Jean Vianney, have extended Sunday mass to multiple days out of the week. Others are asking their congregation to reserve seating on websites like Event Brite.
“The first week there’s going to be a lot of mistakes. You might come to church and not be able to get in,” Bishop Duca says.
Duca says the adjustments will straighten out as the diocese becomes more acclimated to the new normal. One of the biggest adjustments will be to the Eucharist. Instead of allowing the congregation to drink from the same cup, Duca says the communion wine may be tossed out altogether. Masked priest will bless the communion bread and distribute it alone.