SAN FRANCISCO – His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco in light of the reopening of the naves for Holy Services issued a detail preparatory guide instructing the parishes how to proceed.
He wrote among other things that “we rejoice that a glimmer of hope is beginning to appear, so it is incumbent on us to prepare for a transition back to parish life. As municipalities are beginning to lift restrictions, our parishes will soon be able to worship together once more. Depending on state regulations, attendance at the Divine Liturgy will be restricted. Some localities, unfortunately, will continue to prohibit gatherings of more than a handful for church services due to ongoing health concerns, so those parishes must continue worshipping from afar.”
Here are the guidelines:
How Should I Prepare?
Be patient! We want you to return, but we want it to be accomplished in a safe and organized manner.
Those who have pre-existing health conditions and those who are over 65 are requested not to attend services.
If you are exhibiting any signs of illness, even symptoms not related to COVID-19, we ask that, for your own safety and those around you, please do not attend services.
If you do not have a mask, please obtain one. This will be necessary for you to wear when inside the church. If you arrive without one, the parish will provide one.
Please bring hand sanitizer with you. There will also be hand sanitizer available in the Narthex to use upon your arrival to church.
What Should I Expect When I Come to Church?
Attendance will be limited, based on the seating capacity of the church, per the guidelines of local authorities.
Each parish will determine an appropriate sign-up procedure to strictly adhere to attendance guidelines.
Only the main doors of the church will be open. Side doors and back entrances will be closed so that attendance and safety practices are carefully followed.
Masks are to be worn by parishioners during church services. Parental supervision is required for children over the age of 3 who are wearing masks. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from wearing masks.
Your attendance will be recorded, including your current phone number, so that should contact tracing be necessary, the parish will have a clear record of who was present for each service.
You may venerate icons by bowing, but kissing or touching are prohibited.
Parish bulletins will only be distributed electronically.
What Should I Expect When I am in Church?
Please understand that due to occupancy limitations and social distancing, seating will be clearly marked and carefully monitored.
An usher will direct you to a seat in the church. Most likely, this will not be the pew where you usually sit. Please do not move to a different seat.
There will be specific directions and floor markings for safely entering and exiting the church to maintain social distancing.
Up to two adult altar servers may assist the priest. No altar servers under the age of 18 are permitted.
Choirs may not resume at the present time. A single chanter may lead the hymns and responses, and a second chanter is also permitted provided they stand on opposite sides of the Solea. All chanters must be over the age of 18.
Families who live together will be seated together. Relatives who do not reside in your immediate household will be seated separately.
Liturgical books are not permitted in the pews. Online resources are available for you to follow the services.
Please follow the markings for proper spacing to approach for Holy Communion.
Antidoron will be distributed at the end of the Liturgy by the priest, following strict protocols.
Please refrain from kissing the hand of the priest.
When the service has concluded, please promptly follow the directional signage to exit the church safely.
Parishioners are kindly requested not to linger on the church property. No social gatherings or coffee fellowship are permitted.
After each service, the church will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Parish priests, in consultation with their lay leadership, will endeavor to offer additional Divine Services to accommodate parishioners.