NEWTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Thousands of Christians across the Delaware Valley will attend Christmas Eve mass tonight despite COVID-19 concerns this holiday. Eyewitness News spoke with church leaders about what they’re doing to keep their congregations safe.
Churches like St. Andrew in Newtown are scheduling additional masses, limiting capacity and providing live stream options for people to participate from home.
The goal is to keep everyone safe at Christmas during a pandemic.
“We were debating in the beginning,” Tori Parisen said.
Parisen and her family considered the risks.
“We’re nervous about getting older people that come here sick,” Parisen said.
“This is part of our Catholic tradition,” Judy Foley said.
Foley is doing what she could to stay safe.
“I signed for the 2 o’clock mass,” Foley said.
St. Andrew Parish is one of many requiring parishioners to register online for mass to limit capacity.
“Parishes have really been wonderful and creative to make as much space for Christmas mass as possible,” Father Dennis Gill said.
Gill leads COVID safety initiatives for the archdiocese and says their churches are open and safe.
“We do not have any known, traceable evidence of the virus being spread in any way from people coming to church,” Gill said.
Pennsylvania churches are exempt from Gov. Tom Wolf’s order limiting gatherings of more than 10 people with social distancing and face masks encouraged but not required.
“I will keep them on,” one woman said.
With services also being offered online for those who feel safer to be at home, something Gill says is OK.
“Be at peace, observe Christmas in whatever way you can,” Gill said.
A number of outdoor Christmas services tonight are being canceled so check ahead if you plan to attend in person.
By CBS’3s Alicia Roberts
MORE ON CBSPHILLY.COM