The Archdiocese of Denver has extended its suspension of public Masses through the first week of May.
The Archdiocese canceled Masses in mid-March after Gov. Jared Polis banned public gatherings of 250 people or more. The original suspension was set to end April 30, but the Archdiocese said Tuesday that it was extending the suspension through May 8.
“We are currently in the process of developing guidelines and protocols to resume public Masses in a manner that will protect the health and safety of our parishioners, priests and other necessary staff, and also be in compliance with Colorado’s ‘Safer-At-Home’ order,” a statement from the Archdiocese read.
Under Colorado’s safer-at-home order, which went into effect on Monday, gatherings of 10 people or more are not allowed. Last week, the governer’s office said the same rule applies to houses of worship.
“They should continue operating as they were under the stay-at-home phase,” a spokeswoman with Polis’s office said.
Many of the same recommendations that were given during the stay-at-home order are in place during the current phase of Colorado’s response to COVID-19. People should still wear a face mask in public, wash their hands and are encouraged to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Colorado’s faith leaders have found new ways to keep their communities connected. Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada and other congregations have hosted drive-in services where attendees park their cars in church parking lots and listen to the sermon through a transmitter. Other faith leaders have turned to Facebook and Zoom to share messages.
Denver’s Archdiocese has provided a list of parishes who offer online services in addition to uploading recorded Masses online. Mass was also already available twice on Sundays on television, on PBS 12.
The Archdiocese of Denver said it recognizes that with Colorado’s safer-at-home order, public health orders vary from county to county and it is working on developing a uniform approach that works with all parishes.
The next phase will include attendance restrictions, social distancing and temporary liturgical and Sunday changes. The Archdiocese also said that even though gatherings may begin to resume, things won’t immediately go back to normal.
“We know how strong the desire is for us to be able to resume public Masses, and that some are getting frustrated as other areas of public life have remained open,” the statement said. “As we approach this next phase, we want to prudently take steps forward and not rush anything that would cause us to take steps backward.”