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Masks required at indoor Masses

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SAN DIEGO — The Diocese of San Diego is asking its faithful to comply with California’s latest mandate, and wear a mask at its indoor Masses and other services.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Dec. 13 that masks must be worn in all indoor public settings statewide in response to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The mandate, effective Dec. 15, will continue until at least Jan. 15.

In a letter to pastors on Dec. 14, Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan wrote, “We ask all parishioners, out of concern for the personal health risk due to the Omicron variant and the general concern for the health of others, to comply with these requirements.”

Father Tommie Jennings, pastor of Christ the King Parish in San Diego, said the bishop’s letter reinforced the message that the pandemic isn’t over.

“They may be tired of the virus,” he says of his own flock, “but the virus is not tired of them.”

Father Efrain Bautista, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Bonita, said the new mandate is “probably necessary” to keep down the number of COVID cases.

If it accomplishes that, he said, “I think it’s a good thing.”

Even before the new mandate, Father Bautista said there were still “a good number of people wearing masks” at his parish.

He contrasted the latest mandate favorably with the more stringent restrictions of 2020, when all indoor Masses were suspended.

“We don’t want to go back outside, especially with this cold weather.”

As of mid-December, there had been more than 74,700 deaths statewide from the virus, nearly 4,400 of those in San Diego County and nearly 800 in Imperial County.

For both Omicron and other variants, the CDPH continues to urge vaccination, including booster shots; washing one’s hands frequently; and staying home if feeling sick.

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