This morning [Monday, March 16, 2020] the BC Provincial Health Officer and the Minister of Health announced further restrictions on public gatherings to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, limiting the number of persons who may gather for events of any kind to no more than 50.
Given this restriction, I am dispensing the people of the diocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. Please communicate this information as best you can through your parish channels, e.g. your website, email lists, Flocknote and so on.
I ask that daily Mass, including a Mass on Sunday, be offered in each parish and that you continue to make the Sacrament of Penance regularly available with accommodations for “social distancing”.
As was evident last Sunday, people have already elected to stay away from liturgical celebrations. There is little danger that those who will still come to the church will number more than 50.
The Chrism Mass will be moved to 10:00 am on March 31st and, due to the new restrictions, must be closed to the public. The Council of Priests meeting scheduled for the afternoon on that day will be rescheduled. This will allow everyone to return to his parish that same day.
It is not clear how long these new public health restrictions will be in effect. Further direction regarding the liturgies of Holy Week and the Triduum will be forthcoming as more information becomes available.
Bishop Stephen Jensen
Diocese of Prince George
6500 Southridge Avenue
Prince George, BC V2N 5P9