SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Catholic Church officials in the Bay Area have urged the faithful to stay home if they are ill amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, with two bishops lifting the obligation to attend Sunday Mass altogether for seniors and people at risk.

On Wednesday, Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland covering Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, issued an order lifting the Mass obligation for Catholics 60 and older.

“Those over age 60 are encouraged to isolate themselves in an abundance of caution so as not to be exposed to the coronavirus,” Barber said in a statement on the diocesan website. “Those who are ill should stay home. This means the obligation to attend Mass for those over age 60 and for the ill is dispensed.”

Barber also recommended all parish social gatherings, ranging from fish fries to fundraisers, to Bible studies, be rescheduled or canceled. Meanwhile parish business meetings, along with religious education classes can continue.

In the Diocese of San Jose, Bishop Oscar Cantu issued a decree last week lifting the Mass obligation to Catholics “falling into the categories of greater risk” of coronavirus.

“These categories would include persons over 50 years of age, those with health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems,” Cantu wrote.

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which covers Marin County, San Francisco and San Mateo County, the Archdiocese said in a statement (.pdf) that parishioners who are ill or are vulnerable to infection should stay home. For those attending Mass, churchgoers are asked to avoid physical contact and not to receive Communion from the chalice.

Earlier this week, the Archdiocese ordered 90 of its schools closed and canceled student activities through March 25th, after a student had tested positive.

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