Archdiocese announces ‘phase two’ of church reopenings; Masses can seat 50%

People pray during Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Grosse Pointe Woods on May 19, the first day public Masses returned in the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 22, the archdiocese announced the second phase of its reopening plan, which will allow churches to seat up to 50 percent capacity, provided masks are worn and social distancing is observed. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

DETROIT — The Archdiocese of Detroit on Monday announced it is moving to “phase two” of its plan to reopen churches to regular liturgical gatherings and worship. 

In a brief letter emailed to pastors and parishioners June 22, the archdiocese said churches may now seat up to 50 percent of their capacity, “provided that face-coverings are still worn and physical distancing between households can be maintained.”

If distancing cannot be safely observed at 50 percent capacity, churches should continue to permit a lower capacity.

“Phase one” of the archdiocese’s reopening plan began May 19, when parishes were permitted to resume public worship with 25 percent capacity. Over the past month, cases of COVID-19 have steadily declined in Michigan, even as they have risen elsewhere around the country. 

The archdiocese’s memo stated churches may continue to hold socially distanced outdoor Masses with no capacity limit, and non-liturgical gatherings of up to 10 people may take place indoors — provided masks are worn and people observe social distancing.

Non-liturgical gatherings of up to 100 people may take place outdoors on church grounds.

Churches must continue to sanitize between all services, and other directives and guidelines issued during the “phase one” announcement are still in effect.