San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy of The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego announced the end of Mass restrictions this past Thursday.
This announcement ends 15 months of tight restraints on priests and parishioners that began in March 2020.
The Catholic Diocese of San Diego resumed in-person Mass and reopened its doors to parishioners, but with limited capacity and other guidelines in June 2020.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“All of the restrictions on capacity and spacing for worship and all limitations on meetings and social activities are lifted as of today,” said Bishop McElroy. “Masks will still be optional, recognizing that the CDC recommends the practice of wearing masks for those who have not yet been vaccinated.”
Restrictions on receiving Communion by hand or on the tongue have also been lifted, but a date has not been set yet for offering Communion in a “shared cup.”
Parishes may also return to the practice of filling baptismal fonts or providing Holy Water at their discretion.
Children 14 and younger in faith formation classes will still have to wear masks, as will many students attending Catholic schools as there is no vaccine for children yet. Bishop McElroy also recommended that non-family members bringing Communion to the sick be vaccinated.
Bishop McElroy said the blanket dispensation exempting Catholics in the diocese from attending Sunday Mass will end on July 1. It will be replaced by guidelines which will be announced next week.
The guidelines will provide dispensation to those who are ill, vulnerable or who are apprehensive about their safety as the previous restrictions are lifted.
"For those who can be present with us as we resume Mass, you will find that the mass will be different in some ways, because we are undertaking every step that we can to make the experiences of coming to our churches one that is fully safe," Bishop McElroy said.