Coronavirus concerns felt at local houses of worship

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Concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus are impacting practices at some local houses of worship.

Father Kevin Dillon, of St. Boniface Martyr Church in Sea Cliff, is taking steps to help limit the risk of parishioners’ potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Although it has not been mandated by the diocese, Dillon is taking his own measures, including refraining churchgoers from drinking from the chalice, as well as others.

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“The CDC recommends to be mindful of handshaking and kissing, so we eliminated parishioners exchanging the sign of peace,” Dillon says. “You can bow to somebody or smile, or be like a millennial and give a fist bump or elbow bump.”

The pastor and the Eucharistic ministers are also taking measures by sanitizing their hands before assisting with distributing communion.

The pastor also recommends people use the vessel of holy water that has a faucet instead of dipping hands into a font.

Dillon says most parishioners are accepting of the temporary changes, except for one - where priests will no longer be standing outside the doors greeting people as they leave church services.

Similiar precautions are also being taken at Jewish houses of worship.

Rabbi Yakov Saacks, of the Chai Center in Dix Hills, says they are encouraging people not to shake hands, and are encouraging people not to get too close to one another.  He says you have to take a common sense approach.

Both religious leaders say the changes are temporary until the threat of the coronavirus passes. They also say if you are not feeling well to stay at home.

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