Please be aware of the following directives issued today (11.19.2020) by His Eminence, Archbishop MELCHISEDEK to all members of his Archdiocese:
* After reviewing the data regarding the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases within the diocesan boundaries of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, we are, until further notice, requiring masks/shields while in the church itself and all other parish property buildings/spaces when gathering together for services, meetings, education, and other events. This includes facilities owned by the parish but not attached to the church building itself.
* Clergy are exempt from this requirement only while serving the Divine Services. Singers/chanters should maintain a safe distance from one another and position themselves either in the front, or elsewhere, safely apart from the faithful, taking care to also maintain safe distancing/ positioning among themselves. This may require an alteration from the “usual” singing/directing positioning or a reduction in the number of people usually involved.
* Masks/shields are now required when OUTSIDE on church property (unless you are alone) due to the revised PA Health Department guidelines issued November 17, 2020. (Please see the PA Dept. of Health web site for complete information - www.health.pa.gov.) Parishes of the Archdiocese located in Ohio or West Virginia are required to follow the mandates of their respective state governors/health departments concerning current COVID precautions since their guidelines have also recently been updated.
* Parishes should continue to follow previously issued guidelines regarding capacity for worship while physical distancing from non-family members - - generally 50% capacity or a number determined by assessing 6-8 feet circumference spacing between non-family attendees - whichever results in safe-distancing compliance. Consult your local county/municipality for additional guidelines that may have been issued.
* Local parish priests, in consultation with their parish councils, will continue to best decide the amount of services being done, especially during this season of the Nativity Fast and approaching Nativity Holyday. The faithful must view participation in the Church's liturgical life as essential to their well-being - - AS they remain vigilant, using proper health safeguards concerning this COVID danger.
* Those who are actively ill, or who are caring for those with COVID-19, should maintain quarantine but are encouraged to participate in the services through live video streaming available locally or through various quality Orthodox sources on the internet.
* Parish clergy should make themselves available to bring the Holy Mysteries (Confession/ Communion) to those who are unable to attend, using all prudence and reasonable precautions.
* Residents in the Commonwealth of PA should be mindful of the new travel restrictions now in effect for those entering PA - or - for PA residents traveling to other states and then returning to PA. (Again - please see the web site listed above for details. This is especially important during the upcoming holiday travel seasons.)
*The faithful are encouraged to continue to please generously support their parish and other church-related ministries through their attendance and/or prayerful financial support if not attending in-person.
These mandates will be in effect until further notice within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western PA (OCA). Also, previously announced COVID-19 guidelines also remain in effect if not discussed here. It is expected that the clergy/laity of this Archdiocese WILL follow these guidelines issued by their hierarch.