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Mask are now required in Boston area Catholic churches

A mask mandate for Catholic churches in the Boston-area is taking effect this weekend as Christmas approaches.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said masks will be required for all holiday Masses and other church services, including weddings and funerals. The mandate takes effect Saturday and expires on Jan. 17.

Church officials, including deacons, readers, servers and choir members will have to wear masks when not speaking. Children younger under 5 years of age are not required to wear masks.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley said earlier this month the archdiocese was instituting the mandate in light of a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The state Department of Public Health reported 45 deaths and more than 6,300 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. Officials said it is the most new cases reported in a single day since January and the highest amount of deaths reported in a single day since March.

Massachusetts' death toll from the virus now stands at 19,406.

The state is averaging more than 5,125 new COVID-19 cases a day, up from 3,734 a day two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

About 87% of residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine; more than 72% are fully inoculated.

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