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Diocese of Rockville Centre suspends Mass amid virus outbreak

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Following the directives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to postpone events with 50 or more people, the Diocese of Rockville Centre has issued instructions to its parishes to prevent the spread of the virus.

Beginning Monday, March 16, all Masses, meetings and "non-essential activities" at the parishes were either postponed or canceled through April 14, according to church officials. This includes Easter services, Confirmations, First Communions and First Confessions.

Funerals  and weddings are still permitted, though they should remain limited to less than 50 people.

The Catholic Faith Network will provide televised and online daily Masses, and local parishes may also provide livestreaming services.

For the past few weeks, the Diocese has been taking measures to protect its parishioners. Two weeks earlier, the Diocese made the decision to distribute the chalice only  to clergy, and to temporarily stop the sign of peace. Sean P. Dolan, spokesman for the diocese, said in a statement that during the sign of peace, parishioners traditionally shake hands with those seated around them.

Catholic schools are also closed through April 1, per the executive order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

According to Dolan, those who do go to church should observe proper health and hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizers.