Many houses of worship in Maine canceled services over the weekend to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Roman Catholic Diocese put extra precautions in place to avoid the spread of the disease and urged worshipers to view Masses streamed over the Internet, but stopped short of canceling services.
At St. John Catholic Church in Bangor, attendance was down significantly on the first Sunday since state health officials confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maine.
“That’s good that people who feel some jeopardy either for themselves or that they might be jeopardizing somebody else, weren’t here,” said the Rev. Frank Murray.
For those who did attend Mass, precautions were taken to prevent the spread of germs.
There was no physical contact, where there normally is. Murray even elbow bumped parishioners as they exited rather than the traditional hand shake. They held no religious education classes and canceled a planned retreat.
For now, Masses will continue to be celebrated at Catholic churches in Maine unless Bishop Robert Deeley decides they should not be continued. “At this point I don’t think it’s going to happen,” said Rev. Murray. “Beyond the first few rows most people had six feet, which was nice. It’s nice when you have a huge place.”