Coronavirus: Lancaster Catholic Diocese bans hymn books

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Hymn book genericImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hymn and prayer books will be replaced by by single-use songsheets

Hymn books have been banned at services for Roman Catholics in Lancashire amid efforts to protect against coronavirus.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster is also stopping congregations from drinking wine from altar chalices and shaking hands during mass.

Parts of the county covered by Salford Diocese and Liverpool Archdiocese are not affected.

Lancaster Diocese said the measures had been introduced to "reduce possible transmission".

Instead of hymn and prayer books, priests have been advised to provide disposable single-use song sheets, and to wash their hands before distributing communion.

'Sensible precautions'

Bishop of Lancaster Paul Swarbrick is also emptying holy water stoups in which worshippers dip their hands before making the sign of the cross as they enter church.

The bishop said the measures would remain in place until 21 March.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Anglican Diocese of Blackburn is advising "sensible precautions such as not sharing a chalice or shaking hands if people do not want to".

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has issued national guidelines which depend on the severity of the outbreak, but these do not mention hymn books.

If many cases are found in a particular parish, the church envisages suspending public masses entirely.

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