Starting on Monday, June 1, the Diocese of Portland is allowing Maine churches to hold public Masses with restrictions and safeguards in place and no more than 50 people in attendance. To ensure that capacity is not exceeded, parishes are keeping track of attendance in a variety of ways, including sign-up sheets and online registration. This approach is similar to the record-keeping being requested for restaurants and hotels. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the process.
Why is my contact information being collected?
The Diocese of Portland and Maine parishes will hold your personal contact information in the strictest confidence. Having your information helps parishes to be prepared should someone at a Mass later test positive for COVID-19. The State of Maine's "COVID-19 Prevention Checklist" for Religious Gatherings (released by the Department of Economic and Community Development on May 22) requests that "For public health purposes, faith-based organizations should maintain a list of all attendees and visitors to its services and activities, if possible. If a place of worship learns that an attendee or worker has tested positive for COVID-19, they should promptly notify Maine DHHS, CDC, or a local public health official and assist all such officials as reasonably requested to trace likely contacts and advise contacts to isolate and self-quarantine." By signing up to attend a Mass, you authorize your parish to share your contact information (name, phone number, and email address) with public health authorities in the event that it is specifically requested.
How long will these records be kept?
Your personal contact information will be held with great discretion for 21 days to share with public health authorities only when necessary. After 21 days, the electronic records will be deleted and paper records shredded.
Who will have access to my information for the 21 days?
Only a designated parish staff member (the pastor, cluster business coordinator, pastoral life coordinator, or another staff member specifically authorized by one of the above) will release the necessary contact information.
What will happen if someone who attended Mass tests positive?
If parish staff become aware first, the designated parish staff member will contact the Maine CDC to ask how the parish might cooperate in any necessary contact tracing procedures. If public health officials contact parish staff first, only the designated parish staff member will have the authority to disclose the names and contact information of people who attended a particular Mass.