Rio Grande Valley residents attending Mass in the Catholic of Diocese of Brownsville churches will have to continue to follow strict safety protocols enacted by the diocese last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The faithful will need to continue to wear face masks, disinfect their hands and practice social while attending Mass, diocese officials said.
“We will not be making any changes for the schools or parishes,” said Brenda Nettles Riojas, spokeswoman for the diocese, Wednesday. “We are not changing anything.”
Nettles Riojas added none of the individual parishes can make changes unless they are directed to do so Bishop Daniel E. Flores, of the CDOB.
As of December 2020, the total Catholic population in the Brownsville Diocese is 1,171,182. There are 72 parishes and 44 missions.
Flores announced on May 22, 2020 that the churches could reopen on May 25, 2020 with safety protocols in place after he ordered them closed in March for about three months because of coronavirus pandemic.
Those protocols include practicing social distancing, the mandatory wearing of face masks and parishioners will be required to disinfect their hands as they enter and leave the church. Flores also issued special instructions for parishioners receiving Holy Communion.
Capacity in the churches is limited and every other church pew is blocked off.
The diocese’s announcement comes one day after Governor Greg Abbott announced he planned to reopen businesses in the state at 100 percent and lift the state’s mask mandate.
“Removing statewide does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott on Tuesday. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed” the Associated Press reported.
According to the latest statistics by the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 2,304,081 COVID-19 cases in the state with 43,563 coronavirus related deaths.