Diocese of Madison set to reopen at limited capacity next weekend

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Diocese of Madison says it will begin allowing in-person masses next weekend.

Pentecost Weekend, May 30 and 31, will mark the reopening. There will be capacity limits and other safeguards in place. Catholic churches throughout the 11-county region will be limited to 25-percent capacity. Churchgoers will also have to socially distance.

"COVID-19 cases continue to emerge in the state and there is still a very real danger of infection without adequate care; therefore, we want tobe prudential in light of public health concerns," said Bishop Donald Hying. "To simply emerge from these weeks of physical distancing without any gradualism would be irresponsible."

Some of the safeguards in place at churches will include: a recommendation that worshipers wear face masks, no choirs or congregational singing, frequent sanitation of surfaces and handwashing, removal of things like hymn books from pews, continuation of live streaming masses, and obeying all applicable local restrictions.

Officials also urged those at high risk for COVID-19 to stay home.

"Our hope is that our elderly and at-risk faithful people will exercise prudence and not yet attend Mass, especially given the current dispensation from the Sunday obligation, but we do want to begin enabling others to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the central experience of Catholicism, which we have all sorely missed in these challenging weeks of the pandemic,” said Bishop Hying.