Catholic churches across Tucson are canceling indoor Mass for four weeks due to the spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, officials say.
The Diocese of Tucson on Tuesday announced mass celebrations and baptisms will be suspended from Friday, Jan. 8 to Feb. 5.
The diocese will review the decision on Feb. 1, according to its website.
Arizona reported 5,932 new cases Tuesday, and a record 4,789 COVID-19 patients occupied Arizona hospital beds Monday
Masses can be held outdoors, and pastors may request permission from the bishop to hold an indoor mass, the website says.
Funerals and weddings can be held indoors, but they will be limited to 25 people. Baptisms are limited to 10 people.
“No gatherings before or following these celebrations are allowed on parish or church property,” according to the diocese.
Pastors are being encouraged to shift to online Mass.
Parish offices will also be closed to the public during the four-week period.
“A suspension of four weeks from indoor liturgies also allows us to stand in solidarity with those who are critically ill, health-care workers, the unemployed, those grieving the loss of loved ones and all those whose lives have been far more substantially altered,” the diocese said.
The diocese said unlike the initial cancellation of in-person mass over the summer, people can see an end to the pandemic with the vaccine being administered.
“A period of four weeks should make a considerable difference in the availability of the COVID vaccine for those most at risk,” the diocese said. “Hopefully it also will help us to evaluate more accurately the anticipated post-Christmas spike in infections and resulting hospitalizations.”