New coronavirus precautions at Peterborough churches

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Churches in Peterborough have been issued with new guidance to help prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Bishop of Peterborough The Rt Revd Donald Allister last month sent out instructions to churches in the Peterborough diocese for Holy Communion - which involves worshippers receiving consecrated bread and wine in memory of the Last Supper taken by Jesus and his disciples.

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Coronavirus testing (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Coronavirus testing (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Coronavirus testing (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images) | Getty
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However, Bishop Donald has now issued new measures which he has set out in a letter to parishes.

He wrote:

. Those giving out books or papers as people enter church must have hygienically clean hands, in the same way as the ministers of Communion. Only the minimum necessary items should be given out.

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. Greetings at the door, at the peace, and after the service, should not involve touching or very close contact. The same thing applies for people receiving a blessing. with the sign of the cross from a short distance sufficing. The peace can be shared with a nod, a smile, appropriate words, or in other ways, but without touching.

. The wine will not be shared at Holy Communion. The priest will drink a small amount, saying aloud something like: “The blood of Christ, shed for us all,” but only the bread will be offered to communicants. The clergy will make clear that all the benefits of Communion are received when only bread is shared.

. Clergy and others should make sure that the needs of the lonely and the isolated are met as far as possible. However, if parishioners are self-isolating the clergy must not visit them but should be in contact by phone or electronic media. Hospital visits should follow any advice or instructions given by hospital staff.

The Bishop added: “Please pray for all those affected in any way by this outbreak.”