As we approach the Christmas season, parishioners throughout the diocese have been asking about arrangements for Masses over the festive period and in light of recent Scottish Government guidance surrounding relaxation of COVID restrictions and the implications for places of worship.
From 23-27 December inclusive, people are permitted to form a “bubble” of up to three households. It is not possible to ‘change the bubble’ (i.e., the composition of the individuals, or households) once it has been formed. Travel restrictions will also be relaxed from 23 – 27 December, to allow people to travel between local authority areas, and between the four nations of the UK, in order to join their designated “bubble”.
According to the gov.scot website, a “bubble” of people can meet in a private home, in outdoor public places and in places of worship.
Therefore, people from various parts of the country and beyond will inevitably be travelling to locations within our Diocese, to celebrate Christmas with family members. Some of them will want to join us for the celebration of our Christmas liturgies.
We welcome everyone to our Masses and as numbers are still restricted to 50, it is helpful to remind parishioners and their visitors over the Christmas period, that in the interests of safety, and of effective infection control management, everyone is welcome to join us ‘virtually’, via the live-streamed Masses offered by a number of parishes in the diocese.
We are lucky that the transmission rate in the Diocese of Aberdeen is relatively low: the Highland and Moray deaneries remain in Level 1, with the Shire and Aberdeen City in Level 2. Prudence and common sense dictate that we continue to remain vigilant and to do all that we can to minimise unnecessary transmission risks.
With safety and wellbeing maintained as a priority, it is therefore proposed that during Christmas week – in other words, from the Christmas Vigil Mass on Thursday 24 December until Sunday 27 December inclusive – every parish and Mass centre in the Diocese will offer seat booking for the festive Masses to their own parishioners in the first instance. This is only fair, given the maximum permitted seating capacity of 50. As stated above, online participation is an option and should be explored if that accommodates everyone that wishes to attend mass, physically and virtually. Bookings for physical attendance mass can be made directly with their parish priest, or with an appointed person in our parish(es), by telephone, by email or specific booking system. Parishioners are also reminded of the importance of advance booking.
The Bishop and Diocese of Aberdeen would like to thank everyone for their understanding and support as well as adhering to the safety measures, and wishes one and all a happy and blessed Christmas.