The Catholic Diocese of Maine no longer recommends masks in its churches

Mainers who attend Catholic Masses will no longer be required to wear masks.

Friday’s decision by the Diocese of Portland to drop its “strong recommendation” for masks is effective immediately for all 141 Catholic churches in Maine. This recommendation could be reinstated if cases recur in specific communities or schools run by the diocese.

Anyone wishing to wear a mask is welcome, the diocese said on Friday.

Additionally, priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion will no longer be required to wear masks, and starting Monday, masks will be optional for anyone attending parish faith formation programs and for students and staff of Catholic schools.

“Masking indoors was highly recommended as a practical expression of love for our brothers and sisters, especially when they come together as the Body of Christ for Mass,” Bishop Robert Deeley said Friday. “Our advice suggests that it is time to take the next step to return to a more normal celebration of Masses. The diocese is very grateful for the understanding and cooperation during this difficult time. »

The move comes as mask requirements in Maine and around the country have eased in recent days. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that health mainers in all 16 counties may waive face coverings due to declining virus transmission rates.

The Maine Legislature voted Thursday to lift its masking requirement effective Monday, and the Mills administration will no longer require masks in daycares and schools in the state, leaving the decision to individuals, councils municipal or municipal authorities and school boards.

Many cities across the state, including Lewiston, have already opted to make masking optional in their schools, while mandates remain in effect in other communities, such as Portland, amid concerns about locally high rates of transmission of the virus.

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