Archdiocese To Fully Reopen Catholic Churches As NYC Continues To Ease Restrictions

While New York City and state officials lift COVID-19 restrictions, the Archdiocese of New York said it will institute sections in its churches for unvaccinated parishioners or those who want to continue practicing social distancing.

Diocese officials also said collection baskets, hymnals and bulletins will be once again communally used, and fully-vaccinated churchgoers may participate in the choirs and as altar servers.

The Brooklyn Diocese has also announced that all Catholic churches in Brooklyn and Queens will lift capacity restrictions this weekend, though masks are encouraged inside churches on all parishioners.

The state reported Saturday that 63% of all adults in New York have received at least one vaccine dose and 54% completed their vaccination series. Including the state’s minors 12 years old and up, 52% of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 44% have completed their vaccination series. Currently anyone 12 years old and up can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are only available to adults over 18.

As vaccinations continue, the state also reported Saturday that the seven-day rolling positivity rate was at 0.95%, the lowest since September 25th.

The city reported a 1.22% seven-day rolling positivity rate Saturday.

There were 1,361 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals across New York state on Friday, with 326 of those patients in intensive care units. Of those in ICUs, 198 patients were intubated. There were 24 people who died, including six people in Brooklyn, two people in Manhattan and two people on Staten Island.

“We are working night and day to stop COVID-19 in its tracks, and the key is getting as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible—as quickly as possible,” Governor Cuomo said. “The numbers are trending in the right direction, and we’ve taken action to reopen the state’s economy and relax restrictions, particularly for vaccinated people.”

Despite the increasing vaccinated population, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) union said the state should continue mandatory mask policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that vaccinated people could stop wearing a mask at many indoor places, which prompted the NYSNA union to issue a statement Friday saying it “continues to strongly support a mandatory mask policy, particularly in settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved and an individual cannot determine who has been fully vaccinated.”

“The CDC provides no guidance for enforcing the new mask recommendation, where mandatory masking will now only include indoor spaces in healthcare, public transportation and schools. Our frontline, essential workers will bear the brunt of this new policy—both in terms of having to police who is allowed to be unmasked, and through their own increased exposure to COVID-19,” the NYSNA statement read.