Catholic churches can reopen at 100% capacity, Brooklyn Diocese says

Brooklyn Diocese
File photo

Churchgoers in Brooklyn can head to their places of worship without any limits on capacity starting this weekend, the Diocese of Brooklyn announced Friday.

The heavenly news comes just days after New York State adopted the CDC’s new COVID-19 safety guidelines, which allow for vaccinated people to go maskless in most public settings. The state on Wednesday also eliminated capacity restrictions for most establishments.

“It is a good day,” Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement. “Our churches are at full capacity once again, though we continue to keep restrictions in place knowing there are people yet to be vaccinated. We are not giving up our guard and as a community, it is very important that we continue to provide the safest environment possible for all to worship.”

In guidance released by the Diocese, DiMarzio said that churches no longer have to rope off rows of pews to create spacing between parishioners, and parishioners are no longer required to maintain social distance or wear masks if they are vaccinated, though the Diocese is still encouraging maskage. 

Churches can also resume passing out collection baskets, and church choirs composed of vaccinated singers no longer have to maintain physical distance.

The Diocese says it is “relying on the honesty of the faithful” when it comes to vaccination status.

The dispensation (or removal of an obligation) of parishioners from attending Sunday mass, will be lifted on the weekend of June 5, the Diocese said, in time for the Feast of Corpus Christi, though those who are ill or tending to the infirm will still be dispensed. The dispensation has been in effect since March 13 of last year.

More than 55 percent of adult Brooklynites have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Friday, according to state vaccination data.

Last year, the Brooklyn Diocese sued Governor Andrew Cuomo over capacity restrictions limiting services in certain areas of Brooklyn and Queens. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the Diocese. A Brooklyn federal judge fully struck down capacity limits on houses of worship in February, after which they operated at 50 percent capacity.