SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) There are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Vermont, but religious organizations have started to take protocols to keep their congregations healthy.
Those heading to a local church, synagogue, or mosque might notice some changes this weekend.
"Just doing some precautionary measures to ensure that everyone is safe and using common sense," said Ellen Kane with the Catholic Diocese of Burlington. She says they've sent out warnings during bad flu seasons in the, but fears of the coronavirus have them making concrete changes for the public good.
"We will not be offering the cup during Mass," Kane said. It also means parishioners won't be shaking hands or holding hands during prayer. "We are also encouraging people if they are sick to not to come to Mass -- that obligation has been lifted."
There's a similar message at Temple Sinai in South Burlington. "When we usually put our arms around each other, do that sort of thing, I am not putting those things in service," said Rabbi David Edleson. He says that ritual details are taking a back seat to safety. "What we try to do is try to take a balance. We don't want people not to have a place to come at a time of stress, but we also want to make sure we are not making things worse,"
They're also taking preventative measures at the Vermont Islamic Society next door. "If anyone gets sick, just stay home," said the society's Mohamed Elkawas. He says that before prayer, they wash their hands, and that small detail helps when they gather together. "When you pray, you have to wash your hands, and we already did this before corona or what ever."
If the coronavirus threat becomes serious in our region, these local religious organizations say that they could turn to digital forms of prayer and worship. The Catholic Diocese says they are already there.
"At the diocese we actually film the Sunday Masses and we have them playing on WCAX," Kane said.
Religous leaders, taking action to keep their congregations coronavirus-free.