RE: FURTHER RELAXATION OF COVID-19 COUNTERMEASURES

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:

RE: FURTHER RELAXATION OF COVID-19 COUNTERMEASURES

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you, especially those in the parishes within the Archdiocese of Tokyo, for your cooperation in our precautionary measures against COVID-19 infection.

The situation in Metropolitan Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture has gradually settled down after the end of the rebound alert period, such that on 16th June, the COVID-19 infection alert level for Tokyo was lowered by one level for the first time in five months. In consideration of the current state of COVID-19 infection and the situation in the parishes, we have decided to modify our response as follows:

In the Archdiocese of Tokyo, after 25th June, we will basically implement the Stage 2 precautionary measures. The content of which will be adjusted according to the situation. Please refer to the attached document and implement appropriate measures against COVID-19 infection.

 Since the actual situation for each parish may be very different, kindly refer to these countermeasures as a guideline and take the most suitable response to the situation according to the needs of the parish.

Although we may say that the COVID-19 infection situation has been contained, I myself have been exposed to the virus and got sick at the end of May. So it is indeed necessary to take our countermeasures against COVID-19 infection seriously and let us implement them with utmost care.

Let us continue to pray to God our Father for the abundant blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may be able to overcome this difficult time. We believe in the power of prayer offered together in solidarity.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo


<REFERENCE>

STAGE 2 PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AS OF JUNE 25, 2022

1: Inside the Church, please bear in mind to keep a certain distance from each other, while providing adequate ventilation, and take care not to exceed the normal capacity. However, if proper ventilation cannot be maintained due to the structure of the church building, kindly pay special attention to keeping a sufficient distance in front and back, and it would be necessary to limit the number of people who can enter the Church.

2: For the elderly and those with chronic illness, those who worry about being exposed to the virus, kindly pray at home. For families having some concerns or anxieties, kindly pray at home.
Please take note that those who cannot attend the Holy Mass due to physical condition 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, and for the time being with everyone wearing face masks while inside the church building.

4: During the Holy Mass and in other gatherings, please refrain from singing all together. In case there is a wide space with adequate ventilation, reciting prayers all together, singing of hymns by a choir or by a cantor is possible, but please make sure to wear face masks and avoid loud voice.

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 be carried out in the parish if the number of people does not exceed the capacity of the venue and adequate ventilation is carefully considered. But for the moment, please refrain from events that involve eating and drinking.

Note: For priests and extraordinary ministers 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.
Please wear a face mask regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated or not. 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. Moreover, wearing non-woven masks is recommended.