DENVER — As communities around metro Denver lift their stay-at-home orders, in-person services are slated to resume at some places of worship. But, don’t expect them to look the same as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-Colorado) safer-at-home order, churches can stay open, though they are encouraged to conduct services electronically when possible. Smaller, more frequent services with 10 or fewer people (and six feet in between non-related parties) are encouraged as well.
The Archdiocese of Denver announced that it will resume limited mass on Saturday, but with caveats.
“A dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation to participate in Mass remains in place for all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver until further notice,” their website reads.
People in groups considered at-risk for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home, as well as those who have been sick or who may have potentially been exposed to the virus. The Archbishop will continue to offer live streams of services.
Because the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been put on hold, attending weekday masses is encouraged. The Archdiocese said those schedules are up to individual parishes, and people should not expect to attend more than one or two in-person Masses this month.
At in-person Masses, all parishioners over the age of three will be required to wear face masks. They will follow signs to where they are supported to sit, and it’s up to pastors to decide how communion will be given.
Not all churches are reopening under the safer-at-home order. Reverend Dr. Eugene Downing with New Hope Baptist church said at this point it’s too soon, and services will continue via YouTube and Zoom.
He said his congregation has a lot of essential workers, and is predominantly black, a community which has been impacted differently by the virus.
“As a community, African Americans have been impacted by some of the social impacts of the pandemic,” Downing said. “Whether it’s jobs, financially or … being candid with you, a black man wearing a mask down the street can impact the way people perceive you, and impact how therefore you think about your safety through the pandemic.”
Downing said his goal is for the church to reopen once, and not hold in-person services too soon and close again.
“We’ve had people who are very happy that we're worshiping remotely, and are very happy that we’re being cautious and intentional about returning to the sanctuary,” he said. “And of course, we’ve had people who’ve been ready to go back to the building since week one.”
Other places of worship are also still suspending services for the time being. According to Chabad of Colorado’s website, in-person synagogue services have been canceled.
The Colorado Muslim Society posted on its Facebook page that mosques will also be closed for in-person services.
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