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Catholic churches in Idaho prepare to partially and safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic

"I think people really miss the peace and contentment that comes from visiting the church."

BOISE, Idaho — Since Idaho Governor Brad Little issued a statewide stay at home order last month, churches across Idaho have closed their doors and canceled events, or began streaming them online.

Now, some Catholic churches in Idaho are in the early stages of getting ready to reopen. 

Gene Fadness is a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Boise and told KTVB that it is important for people to have a sanctuary if it is safe to do so. That is why many Catholic churches in the Dioceses are slowly and carefully letting a limited number of people inside.

"I think people really miss the peace and contentment that comes from visiting the church," Fadness said.

For nearly a month, Idahoans have been urged to stay home in order to lessen the spread of COVID-19. While people of faith have gone out with in-person services since then, the Catholic Diocese of Boise is now allowing its churches to partially reopen for smaller and more spaced out services.

"It's opening only for private prayer and devotion not for church services or any kind of liturgy or any sort and the parish has to make sure that no more than ten people are in the building at the same time and that they are observing social distancing," Fadness said.

He added that the churches will also take extra measures to ensure the pews are safe for people to worship in by restricting which pews are open and by cleaning the armrests and kneelers.

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For those with a compromised immune system, older, or with underlying health conditions, Fadness said they can contact their parish and priests for a one-on-one confession or communion, as long as social distancing is practiced.

Fadness believes the partial reopening will allow parishioners the chance to get back a sense of peace and calmness that churches can bring while staying safe and healthy.

"I think just during a time when we are having a lot of people," he said, "we have seen cases of increased suicide, of abuse, people are anxious and I think this just gives them an opportunity for sanctuary."

To find out when your church will reopen, Fadness said to contact your individual parish to find out.

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