RE: GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF STRICTER COVID-19 COUNTERMEASURES

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:

RE: GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF STRICTER COVID-19 COUNTERMEASURES

COVID-19 infections continue to spread even now, and the reported number of people who tested positive in some areas are still increasing day by day. Although we are fortunate to have celebrated together the Holy Week this year, the infection situation does not seem to be coming to an end.

Following the government’s announcement of implementing stricter COVID-19 countermeasures, some areas covered by the Tokyo Archdiocese will be subject to these measures for one month from 12th April. The designated areas within the Tokyo Archdiocese are those belonging to the 23 special wards, and six cities namely, Hachioji City, Tachikawa City, Musashino City, Fuchu City, Chofu City and Machida City. The specified period will start from 0:00 of 12th April (Monday) to 24:00 of 11th May (Tuesday).

According to the announcement by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the following requests have been made to all the citizens of Tokyo. (A separate request has been made also to business operators.)

  • Refrain from non-essential and non-urgent going out and travel to other prefectures. In particular, refrain from going to and from cities where infections due to COVID-19 variants are rapidly increasing. (Art. 24, Par. 9 of the Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases, from here on will be referred to as “Act”)
  • Refrain also from non-essential and non-urgent going out and travel during the day. (Art. 24, Par. 9 of the Act)
  • Avoid crowded places and times (Art. 24, Par. 9 of the Act)
  • For the designated areas where stricter countermeasures are implemented, refrain from unnecessarily going in and coming out of restaurants outside of the specified business hours requested of operators. (Art. 31.6, Par. 2 of the Act).
  • During meals, observe proper wearing of facial masks when having a conversation. (Art. 24, Par. 9 of the Act)

There will be no changes in the precautionary measures implemented so far by the Tokyo Archdiocese. However, since we have been carrying out these measures already for a long time, and some of us may have become too accustomed or even tired of them, I would like to call on all parish communities to renew our commitment in observing these measures. Brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese, priests, religious and all the faithful, let us once again take extra care, supporting each other, encouraging one another, and praying together so that we may triumph as one over these difficult times as we all walk hand in hand.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo

 

<REFERENCE>

STAGE 3 PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AS OF APRIL 12, 2021

1: In order to keep a distance of at least one meter from each other while inside the Church, we have to limit the number of people who can enter the Church. If this is not possible, gathering inside the Church for liturgical celebrations will not be allowed. Moreover, if proper ventilation cannot be maintained during the celebration of the Holy Mass, gathering inside the Church for liturgical celebrations will not be allowed. After the Holy Mass, kindly exit in an orderly manner and avoid conversations while inside the Church.

Kindly follow the instructions of your parish priest on the specific ways to ensure social distancing inside the Church. Also, please refrain from going out in search of another Church where the Holy Mass is celebrated. Just follow the instructions in the Church where you belong to or in the community where you are part of. The parish will keep a record of those who participated in the Holy Mass in order to respond to the request of the public health department in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 infection. Careful handling of the personal information will be observed and proper discarding will be made later.

2: For the elderly and those with chronic illness, as much as possible kindly pray at home. However, the age limit will not be enforced in the Church.

Please take note that all the faithful of the Tokyo Archdiocese are dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Masses.

3: As we had been doing since the beginning from 31st January 2020, let us continue to take proper precautionary measures against COVID-19 such as hand disinfection, providing sufficient ventilation, with everyone wearing face masks for the time being.

4: For the moment, please refrain from “singing all together” and from “reciting the prayers all together” at Holy Mass and at gatherings. It is however possible to have an organist playing the hymns, a cantor singing alone using the microphone, or in case there is a wide space with proper ventilation, singing in a choir with a very limited number of members.

5: In the meantime, there will be no offertory procession at the Holy Mass. Also, for the time being, please receive Holy Communion by hand, and everyone must sanitize their hands immediately before reception. For those who would like to receive Holy Communion by mouth, in order to avoid infecting other people with the fingers of the priest during distribution, kindly consult the parish priest beforehand.

6: Except for the Holy Mass, all activities where people meet face-to-face such as meetings, assemblies, gatherings, study groups among others should as much as possible be conducted online. However, such activities may be allowed in the parish if the capacity of the venue, proper ventilation and the length of time (maximum of two hours) is carefully considered. But please refrain from events that involve eating and drinking.

7: For the sacrament of reconciliation, please take precautions to prevent droplet infection by using tools such as acrylic screens. Face shields are not a substitute for face masks. Even if you are using a face shield, please use also a face mask with it. Please take note that the notice released on 26th March 2020 regarding “The Message from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and on Granting of Special Indulgence” is still valid.

Note: Priests who are above 75 years old may preside in the celebration of the Holy Mass and distribute Holy Communion. In distributing the sacred host, kindly make sure that hands are disinfected and a face mask is worn. The parish priest may ask some parishioners to serve as “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion” should he find it necessary.