Archdiocese of Miami: Masks required for Mass and schools

(AP Photo/Peter Lazar) (Peter Lazar, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MIAMI – The Archdiocese of Miami is requiring masks again for anyone attending Mass or school as COVID-19 infections spike across South Florida.

An archdiocese statement issued Wednesday says the mask requirement affects all Mass services and church gatherings across its 109 parishes. A similar requirement was reimposed for students and staff at Catholic schools in South Florida on Jan. 1, before classes resumed following the holidays.

“We need to be cautious and we need to be proactive,” Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, told the Miami Herald. “We believe that wearing a mask and social distancing can help prevent the spread."

Archbishop Thomas Wenski had lifted the mask requirement for fully vaccinated parishioners in November as coronavirus caseloads dropped significantly following a summer wave caused by the delta variant of COVID-19.

Wenski urged priests to have masks available at the doors to every church.

“From my observations, most people have resumed (wearing masks) ever since the highly contagious omicron appeared,” his statement said. “Even if as some allege that masks are not totally effective, they do help."

All congregations across the region are still livestreaming Mass for anyone who can't go in person.

The Archdiocese said students must wear masks regardless of vaccination status or parental opt-out through the end of January. Students attending religious education classes are also required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The omicron variant has swept across Florida, with the state reporting nearly 60,000 new infections since mid-December to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.