Governor Little is scheduled to hold a press conference on Thursday about how Idaho will move into Stage One of the state's plan to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. Stage one allows for the reopening of houses of worship.

Leaders of many religions have been working hard on putting together plans to maintain proper social distancing and follow CDC recommendations. How will that change typical services?

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Deacon Don, the Pastoral Associate at my church, Risen Christ Catholic Community, has done a really great job keeping in touch with parishioners via e-mail during the "Stay Home Order." As masses resume the weekend of May 3, here's the guidelines the parish is planning to adapt to our new normal:

  • The congregation will not shake hands or hug during the Sign of Peace, nor hold hands during the Lord's Prayer.
  • Communion will be distributed only under the form of bread and will be received on the hand.
  • Each member of the congregation, acting responsibly, will bring and wear a facial mask to protect others, and bring and use hand sanitizer to protect themselves and others during Mass.
  • When entering and leaving the church, through the entrance to the front parking lot, as well as processing to receive Communion, the social distance of 6 feet must be maintained between individuals. In this case, members of the same household are considered "an individual."
  • Seating will be marked to ensure social distancing of six feet is maintained at all times between individuals who are on either side of us, before us and behind us. This will reduce the number of people able to attend any particular mass.
  • Collection baskets will not be passed from person to person. Instead they will be arranged by the baptismal font.
  • At the end of Mass, people will leave according to a designated section of pews, maintaining a distance of six feet between individuals.
  • Members of the congregation are asked to not congregate after Mass in the church or narthex, to safeguard social distancing and the health of all.
  • Coffee hour will not be held during Stage One.

During several of the protests against the Idaho "Stay Home" order, people expressed that they felt the order violated their rights to practice their faith. That's part of the reason that houses of worship have been added to the places allowed to reopen during Stage One.