By The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine Catholics will soon return to churches with greatly relaxed restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Diocese of Portland is changing its guidance for the 141 Catholic churches in Maine just as the state is preparing to eliminate mask requirements in most settings. Maine’s indoor mask order goes away on Monday.

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That same day, masks will no longer be required for any person at any time, inside or outside churches, the diocese said. Pew seating arrangements that establish six or more feet of distance between people are also eliminated that day, the diocese said.

The diocese said it’s also restoring distribution of Communion to homebound Catholics, and indoor choir practices can be held without distancing.

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Many churches will provide space in areas such as parish halls for spread out seating during services, the diocese said. Livestreaming of services will also continue, the diocese said.

“We hope that by continuing to offer a variety of ways to participate in Mass and through updating these protocols, all will feel welcomed to grow in their faith together in Christ,” Bishop Robert Deeley said.

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