PORTLAND, Maine — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced Monday that the H1N1 flu precautions instituted last fall would be lifted in time for Holy Week.
Beginning with the Vigil Mass for Palm Sunday on March 27 and 28, the liturgy will be celebrated according to the usual practices, which include the invitation to exchange the sign of peace and to share the Communion cup, diocesan spokeswoman Sue Bernard said in press release.
The Archdiocese of Boston made a similar announcement Feb. 3, two weeks before Lent began on Ash Wednesday.
“The precautions were put in place in November after consultation with state health officials,” Bernard said. “At that time, the distribution of the shared consecrated wine was suspended, parishioners were encouraged to offer a verbal greeting during the sign of the peace, and the faithful were urged to receive Holy Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue.”
Proper hygiene practices, including the use of antibacterial hand sanitizers by greeters, Eucharistic ministers and others, will continue to be used, according to Bernard.
She cautioned worshippers, greeters and Eucharistic ministers to stay home if they are sick.
Other denominations put similar precautions in place last fall but have not announced that they are being lifted.