LONDON, ONT -- In a move to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Diocese of London is taking steps to suspend public masses and close churches until the end of April.

London Bishop Rev. Ronald Fabbro announced all masses and services, including missions and devotions will be suspended until April 30.

“The following directives, which include the temporary suspension of all public Masses in our diocese and restrictions on the celebration of the other sacraments, will be hard on all of us,” says Rev. Fabbro. “After consulting with public health officials, however, we decided that it is our responsibility as citizens to work together with others in our communities to take measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to care for those who are sick and most vulnerable as a result of this virus.”

Funeral masses and luncheons will not be permitted and will be celebrated at a later date, the Diocese said in a news release issued Wednesday morning.

The Diocese is also recommending any weddings already scheduled be delayed, noting if they proceed, they be limited to immediate family members only. Baptisms will also be postponed until further notice.

Confessions are also cancelled, “except in the case of danger of death,” the release noted.

“We are making these sacrifices out of charity and for the sake of the common good.,” said Bishop Fabbro. “I encourage all our faithful to be to be vigilant about personal cleanliness and keeping appropriate distances from others.”

“Our priests, deacons, lay pastoral ministers, and our faithful are reaching out to those in need at this difficult time, especially those who are elderly, vulnerable and isolated,” Bishop Fabbro added. “I am very grateful to all of you. This Lenten season, we are united in prayer for those who are suffering from COVID-19 and for those who are caring for them.

The Diocese has created an outreach page for church members to receive updates.