Masks required in church, Miami Archbishop says

Masks had become optional for worshipers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 back in November, but the policy has changed amid the latest surge of infections.

MIAMI – With COVID-19 cases rapidly spreading across South Florida, the Archdiocese of Miami says it’s mandatory to mask up in church once again.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski gave that directive to all archdiocesan priests in a letter Tuesday.

“Given the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID, I ask you to resume requiring the use of facemasks, even for the vaccinated, during the celebration of the liturgy and other parish functions as well as maintain proper social distancing,” Wenski wrote.

The Archdiocese had relaxed its mask rules for those vaccinated in November as infections waned following the summer surge.

Wenski cited rising cases and positivity rates in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties as a reason for again requiring maks.

“From my observations, most people have resumed [wearing masks] ever since the highly contagious omicron appeared,” Archbishop Wenski wrote to his priests. “Even if as some allege that masks are not totally effective, they do help. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, we have said that the measures we have taken only mitigate but not eliminate the risk of infection. The research of the CDC has validated the benefit of masks with the N95 mask being the most effective.”

Wenski suggested that parishes make masks available at the door and also said that anyone sick or “fearful of contracting the virus because of an underlying condition” should stay home while the rate of transmission is high.

Florida reported a record of nearly 300,000 new COVID-19 infections in the last full week of 2021, with the statewide new-case positivity rate topping 26%.