SALT LAKE CITY — On Feb. 14, Bishop Oscar A. Solis sent a memo that lifted the protocols requiring the wearing of masks in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. As of Feb. 15, parishes and other Church institutions, except for Utah Catholic Schools, are no longer required to mandate the wearing of masks in public areas.
However, the bishop wrote that, “A similar lifting of a masking mandate in our Catholic Schools will become effective on March 1, 2022.”
Although the mask mandate has been lifted, the wearing of masks in large indoor groupings remains highly recommended, Bishop Solis wrote. “In consideration of the elderly, the vulnerable and those who suffer comorbidity and other underlying health issues, charity for the common good always comes first, rather than individual freedom.”
Social distancing also continues to be encouraged, and all Catholics and visitors to churches and Catholic institutions are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated, the memo states.
For Ash Wednesday, which this year is March 2, “the faithful who wish to receive ashes as the traditional ritual of Lenten repentance will be given the option of receiving them in the traditional manner of imposition on the forehead or in the more ancient tradition of having the ashes sprinkled on the top of their heads (thus avoiding being touched),” the bishop wrote. “If sprinkling is preferred over touching, simply bow your head forward when receiving the ashes. All ministers of the ashes are asked to wear masks.”
The memo closes with the hope that “now as our COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to drop, we will be able to give our pastors, administrators, principals, and other executives more autonomy and management of their safety protocols.”
The bishop wrote that he will continue to meet regularly with his senior staff and regional deans “to discuss evolving safety protocols for our diocese, review hospitalization rates and overall case numbers and make changes or adjustment to our protocols accordingly.”