Churches in Diocese of El Paso to remain closed

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso has released a series of phased protocols for the reopening of Churches in the Diocese of El Paso.

According to the Diocese, Bishop Seitz has deemed that the Churches in El Paso County are to remain in a suspended status.

However, due to the number of very limited cases in parishes in West Texas, (Brewster,
Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Presidio, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler Counties) Bishop Seitz has given permission to Pastors of parishes to open in Phase 4 as the Pastor of the parish deems prudently fit beginning May 9, 2020, officials said.

Phased Plan to Resume Church Gatherings:

-When the time is appropriate churches in the Diocese of El Paso will resume gatherings in
a phased manner. All phases have in common the strict following of the Disinfection and
Social Distancing norms below. The phases only differ in the size and frequency of the
gatherings. Bishop Seitz will determine when those phases become in effect

-Based on the number of COVID-19 cases in each part of the diocese, and the guidance
from Governor Abbot regarding rural counties where there are few or no cases of the virus,
churches in El Paso County and those in West Texas (Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff
Davis, Loving, Presidio, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler Coun@es) will follow different phases at
different times as they gradually resume church gatherings:

Suspended Status: This is the current status quo throughout the diocese: Church
gatherings are limited to just those necessary to facilitate the celebration or live streaming of Mass, not to exceed 10 people. Funerals, weddings, baptisms, and similar liturgies are postponed. Churches are closed for prayer during the day. Confession is available by appointment only.

Phase 1: Church gatherings remain limited to less than 10 people. But churches, where Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly followed, may be open for a time during the day for personal prayer by individuals. Scheduled times for Confession may also be offered, provided the Social Distancing norms below are strictly followed.

Phase 2: Churches, where Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly

followed, may resume gatherings at 25% capacity for Mass on weekdays,
baptisms, weddings, funerals, Eucharistic exposition for 1–2 hours, and prayer
during the day. Sunday Masses remain suspended, however, in this phase. This period will allow parishes to practice the Disinfection and Social Distancing norms, making them routine before the resumption of gatherings on Sundays.

Phase 3: Churches, where Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly followed, may also resume gatherings for Sunday Mass at 25% capacity.

Phase 4: Churches where Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly
followed may expand gatherings to 50% capacity.

Phase 5: Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are relaxed, but not eliminated,
and churches may expand gatherings to 100% capacity. In accord with Governor Abbot’s guidance for rural counties where there are few or no cases of the virus, churches in West Texas (Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Presidio, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler Counties) may resume church gatherings on Saturday, May 9, 2020, at Phase 4 listed above, to the extent that the pastor
deems prudent.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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