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Pastors to decide mask requirement

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SAN DIEGO — Are facial coverings still required at Mass?

Based on the most recent guidance from the Diocese of San Diego, the answer to that question may vary from parish to parish.

On Feb. 15, state and county officials lifted a two-month mask mandate in indoor public spaces. A day later, Bishop Robert McElroy sent a letter to the priests in the diocese, leaving the decision of whether to require masks to their discretion.

The diocese had been requiring masks at Mass, regardless of parishioners’ vaccination status, for the past two months.

The bishop recommended that pastors, in collaboration with parish leadership, review their parish mask-wearing requirement given that the prevalence of the Omicron variant had declined and public health authorities had relaxed prevention measures.

Meanwhile, county health officials continue to urge all eligible residents to get any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines, including the additional booster, all of which are free and readily available.

Though the number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant has dropped significantly in the last few weeks, the virus continues to drive hospitalizations and deaths. A total of 93 people died in San Diego County between Feb. 9 and 16 due to the virus; the previous week, a total of 119 had died.

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