On Wednesday, January 5, the Government of Ontario implemented new restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. These new restrictions have placed a 50 per cent capacity limit on places of worship.
This announcement should not result in any changes for parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto, as we have been maintaining physical distance between households throughout the pandemic. Due to the layout of our churches, most of our parishes have been worshipping at roughly 30 per cent capacity on weekends.
The Archdiocese of Toronto has followed the WorshipSafe protocols throughout the pandemic, which has a solid track record of stopping community transmission of COVID-19 in our churches.
To be fully transparent, parish websites are providing information on positive COVID-19 tests and exposures that involve members of that church. Our priests have been celebrating additional Masses when needed to fill-in for priests who must self-isolate. If a parish’s priests must self-isolate and other priests are unable to celebrate the sacraments there, sadly, some Masses at that parish will be cancelled. Please regularly check your parish’s website for any updates.
These are stressful times for all of us, as we see in the prevalence of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and violence. The Archdiocese of Toronto is here to provide consolation through the sacraments (including the Eucharist and funerals), charitable activities (such as food banks and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul) and to offer a place for twelve step programs to meet.
Before you go to church, please ensure that you are not presenting any of the COVID-19 symptoms. If you have COVID-19 symptom, please stay home. You can find a COVID-19 self-assessment tool here.
Throughout the pandemic, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, has removed the Sunday obligation from the faithful who are sick and those who do not think they should attend Mass because of the virus. About 100 parishes are offering livestream Masses; you can find a list of those parishes here. And you can find information on completing a spiritual Communion here.
In these difficult times, let us continue to pray and care for one another.