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Religious institutions gradually opening up again

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 18:35:00-04

MIDTOWN, Manhattan — To many, houses of worship could be providing an essential service during the pandemic.

That’s why so many are overjoyed that they may be slowly reopening.

“It’s time for the appropriately gradual and staggered reopening of services being crafted by the archdioceses and the diocese,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said at a news conference.

While St. Patrick’s Cathedral remains closed and all Sunday masses are still on hold, Cardinal Dolan detailed how the 228 parishes in the Archdioces and churches throughout the Brooklyn and Queens Diocese propose reopening: with masks and hand sanitizers, crosses on the pews and aisles so worshippers can maintain social distancing, signs for where families can sit and no misselettes, wine or physical contact during the sign of peace.

Outdoor confessions may also be possible.

“You can set up a kneeler here with a screen and the priest would be more than six feet away,” Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, administrator for The Church of our Savior, told PIX11 News.

For Jews, the state requirement of no more than 10 participants in a religious service has great meaning since that’s a quorum or minyan. But it’s always tough to limit numbers.

“If you’re having a bar mitzvah, you can have the family of 10. The question is who will be the eleventh on the list. It will create some really intriguing challenges,” Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president, of the NY Board of Rabbis, told PIX11 News.

And Shaykh Ibad Wali, the executive director of the Hillside Islamic Center, said it will not be re-opening any time soon until all the safety measures are firmly in place.

But Muslims have other options.

“We can always do our worship and prayers at home but we can attempt to have a congregation of limited number,” Wali said.

The hand sanitizers that will hopefully be in the back of all religious institutions are on back order and hard to find right now.

There will be no Sunday Masses in the immediate future.