ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Cuomo announced on June 6th that houses of worship can open at 25 percent capacity starting immediately for New York State regions in Phase Two of reopening.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany opened their doors this weekend for the first time in months.
“We are happy to be able to welcome people back. It’s very poignant, that we will be able to have in person masses and have people receive holy communion,” said Father David LeFort.
Many churchgoers say they are filled with emotions to be back.
“I’m really excited about it. The last time I went inside a church was so long ago,” said Lynn Giminiani.
The Diocese of Albany says parishes are able to offer public liturgies with maintaining safety protocols. They say between one-third and one-half of their 126 parishes across 14 counties will be opening this weekend with the rest opening the weekend after.
Many parishes been submitting plans, and training volunteers and staff to deal with disinfecting churches.
Father Lefort says with the size of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, they can hold about hundred people at 25 percent capacity.
“We can accommodate in seating about 186 people and then probably another 40 people standing six feet apart,” said LeFort.
LeFort says the inside of the churches are going to look a lot different. Parishioners should bring/wear their own masks and, if possible, a bottle of hand sanitizer for use upon entering, before receiving Communion, after receiving Communion, and after exiting the church. Churchgoers should plan on restricted seating, a change in the reception of Communion in order to ensure social distancing, exit strategies to ensure social distancing, etc.
The Diocese of Albany says individuals who are at higher risk with the coronavirus and those who are sick are asked to remain at home.The livestreams for many churches and houses of workshop will continue because many people will not be able to attend public mass.
Many say they are happy to be reunited with members of the community to worship as one.
“You can always pray in your own house but being able to worship with others is always beautiful,” said Giminiani.