Churches stop sharing hymn books over coronavirus

(Photo: Unsplash/Zack Smith)

Churches in Lancashire have been told not to share hymn books as one of a number of measures being introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

The guidance was issued by the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Paul Swarbrick, on Thursday as the number of cases across the UK continues to rise. 

"Shared hymnbooks and Mass books should ideally not be used at this time," he wrote.

"Single-use Mass sheets may be used; though these should be carefully thrown away after use." 

Churches are also being told not to use shared towels in the toilets and sacristy, and ensure regular sanitisation of "high contact" surfaces like door knobs and light switches. 

Elsewhere, the guidance tells churches to remove the sign of the peace entirely from services and suspend the use of holy water stoups. 

"The sign of peace is to be suspended at Mass," the bishop said. 

"In order not to create confusion in the minds of the lay faithful, I request that all priests simply omit any reference to the offering of the sign of the peace, prior to the Agnus Dei." 

Cases of coronavirus in the UK rose to 116 on Thursday.  A 70-year-old woman was the first patient in the UK to die from the virus yesterday.