The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte will no longer require social distancing and face coverings at services, according to a letter to parishes on Friday from the Rev. Msgr. Patrick Winslow, diocesan vicar general and chancellor.
The decision followed new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “which no longer recommends social distancing or face coverings for those who are fully vaccinated,” Winslow wrote.
Winslow also noted Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order on Friday “that lifts mask and social distancing requirements in most circumstances.”
Masks are still required on public transit, as well as at child care centers, schools, prisons and public health settings, Cooper said.
Local governments can enact tougher health protocols, Cooper said. But in Mecklenburg County, health officials have closely followed the governor’s lead and CDC guidance.
Cooper’s new order follows guidance issued Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on more data underscoring just how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing severe illness and virus spread. Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors and outdoors without coronavirus safeguards, like social distancing and mask wearing, according to the CDC.
Masses and confession resume pre-pandemic schedules on May 23, Winslow wrote.
He said people who are vulnerable because of COVID-19 should “continue wearing face coverings or attend Mass virtually,” according to his letter.
Not allowed until further notice: “Receiving Communion from the chalice and receiving the Sign of Peace,” according to the statement.
Worshippers, however, “retain the right to receive Communion on the tongue or in the hand,” Winslow wrote.