(AP and WXXI News) New York will allow small religious gatherings starting Thursday as the state gradually loosens restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Wednesday briefing.
Religious gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed statewide as long as participants wear masks and practice social distancing. The state also is allowing drive-in and parking lot services.
The state will work with an Interfaith Advisory Council to discuss proposals to safely bring back religious services. The council consists of dozens of religious leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts.
``I understand their desire to get to religious ceremonies as soon as possible. As a former altar boy, I get it,'' Cuomo said. ``But we need to find out how to do it and do it safely and do it smartly. The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected.''
A statement issued Wednesday by the Rochester Catholic Diocese said that it was grateful to learn that the topic of religious practice was addressed at Cuomo’s briefing on Wednesday, and diocese officials said they are awaiting more information about how they resume Masses with the faithful present, in a limited manner. The diocese says that parishes have begun implementing general protocols for how they will ensure social distancing and achieve the necessary cleaning regimens and safety standards.