Diocese updates COVID-19 safety protocols

Father John Stack, right, and Deacon Jeff Schuetzle celebrate Mass at Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in February 2020, a month before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

By Barb Arland-Fye

The Catholic Messenger

Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport may now receive Communion under both forms of bread and wine, sing during Mass with the choir and without masks, and exchange the sign of peace as customary, according to new COVID-19 guidelines. In addition, the dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass has been lifted. The regular ministry of greeters, lectors, severs and eucharistic ministers may resume as well as home visits. The use of vessels, water fonts, incense, missalettes, hymnals, collection baskets and bulletins also resume. Limitations on length of time gathered for meetings, events and liturgies has ended.

These and other changes are in response to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines released Feb. 25, said Bishop Thomas Zinkula and Diocesan Chief of Staff Deacon David Montgomery. The diocese has been following and adhering closely to the CDC guidelines throughout the ongoing pandemic, they said. Diocesan pandemic protocols began two years ago.


“The situation with COVID-19 has changed dramatically,” Deacon Montgomery said. All of the counties in Iowa are at low to medium risk of infection. Depending on the county in which Catholics live, precautions, such as mask-wearing, are strongly recommended for people who are more vulnerable to the virus or caring for someone in that situation. The diocese continues to encourage vaccination for protection against the virus.

Bishop Zinkula and Deacon Montgomery say the new guidelines do not reflect a return to the pre-pandemic experience of the liturgy. “I don’t think we can go back to where we were because of what we have been through,” Deacon Montgomery said. “We are still in a pandemic,” Bishop Zinkula said. “People should still take precautions.”

Here are the guidelines the Davenport Diocese announced March 1:

The following safety protocols are in effect immediately in the Diocese of Davenport if your county is at a green (low) or yellow (medium) level, according to the community levels provided by the CDC.  If your county is at or returns to an orange (high) level, additional protocols are encouraged, including masking, social distancing, etc. See the CDC updates:


In General

  • Vaccination is encouraged. If you are sick, stay home and follow CDC recommendations for isolation, quarantine and testing.
  • Masks are optional. However, masks remain strongly recommended for those who are more vulnerable to the virus, those caring for persons at higher risk for infection, and those who are unvaccinated.
  • Social distancing is not required, but please respect requests for distancing from people around you.
  • Good ventilation is encouraged as a general health measure.
  • Extraordinary or additional cleaning and sanitizing is not required. Normal weekly cleaning is sufficient.
  • Drinking fountains may be used. No restrictions on food at gatherings.  Follow common food safety protocols.
  • Testing before or after travel is not required, but is encouraged if you have symptoms of COVID.
  • No limitations on the duration of time gathered for meetings, events or liturgy.


  • The dispensation for the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is lifted. For serious reasons such as advanced age, a serious medical condition, caring for someone who is sick, restrictions on travel, or some other grave reason, you don’t need permission to be absent from Sunday Mass.  Use your common sense to excuse yourself and find another way to pray and keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Choir members and the congregation may sing without masks.
  • The regular ministry of greeters, lectors, servers, and Eucharistic ministers may resume. Home visits may resume.  However, masks should be worn if any of those present are infected with a contagious disease.
  • The use of vessels, water fonts, incense, missalettes, hymnals, collection baskets, and bulletins may resume.
  • The Sign of Peace may be exchanged as customary while respecting the wishes of those around you.
  • Communion may be distributed under both forms of bread and wine.  If you are sick, you should avoid receiving from the cup.
  • Other sacraments and sacramentals can be administered as usual.

Catholic Schools

  • The schools will continue to encourage safety protocols. Parents have the option to have their children wear masks.  Teachers and staff also have the option to wear masks.  Those exhibiting symptoms will be sent home.

Please continue to pray for those who are sick, for the people caring for them, and for a swift end to the pandemic.


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