Update - Bishop suspends Sunday Mass obligation, town offices closed next week

UPDATE 2:17 p.m. — Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport has issued a dispensation temporarily suspending the Sunday Mass obligation for all Catholics effective immediately and through March 29.

The Mass schedule will remain not change, though worshippers who are not feeling well, or who have a cough or fever are encouraged to stay home.

Those who attend Mass, though, will notice a few changes. First, the holy water fonts will be empty, according to the Rev. Brian Gannon of St. Theresa.

“We’re working on a way to get people their holy water,” he said. But the practice of dipping hands into the communal water is temporarily suspended, he said. So too is any action that brings parishioners into physical contact with each other, including holding hands during prayer and the traditional handshake “sign of peace,” he said.

“A friendly wave or a nod and a smile is good,” he said.

Friday update — All town offices, including Town Hall, will be closed to the public next week from Monday until Wednesday as town officials continue grappling with the coronavirus outbreak. The town transfer station will be open, according to First Selectman Vicki Tesoro.

“Town employees will be in the buildings, but they will not be open to the public,” Tesoro said. “We’ll be using that time to work out additional ways of reducing the health risk to the public and to town employees.”

Tesoro also urged people to continue following social distancing measures, and to avoid gathering in large groups.

“I know it’s difficult, and it’s not what we’re used to, but with there being no cure for coronavirus, the key is to avoid transmitting it,” she said.

Around Trumbull, grocery stores were flooded with customers Thursday, with shoppers reporting long lines and shelves emptying of most fresh meats and staples like rice and pasta. By Friday morning, workers were restocking at the Quality Street Stop and Shop, but the meat coolers remained mostly empty.

Westfield Trumbull mall announced on its website that the center was closely following recommended health guidelines.

“The health and safety of our customers, employees, and community is always our top priority,” the statement read.

Additional protective measures at the mall include increased frequency and intensity of cleaning, especially in “high touch” areas like restrooms, dining areas, play areas and water fountains.

The shopping center also is developing an advertising campaign inside the mall to reinforce preventative measures.

The statement concluded, “We will continue to monitor any changes in guidelines issued by the CDC and/or local public health authorities.”

Tesoro too said she and town officials were continually monitoring the situation.

“The one thing we know is that the situation can change, and hopefully for the better,” she said. “In the meantime we need to be doing everything we can to help each other out and help each other get through it.”

And though it is easy to get frustrated with the situation, as planned events get canceled, Tesoro said it was important to be patient and, above all, not panic.

“I have a (family wedding) scheduled for June, and we don’t know if it’s going to happen,” she said. “That’s something we’ve been planning two years. But we do the best we can, and try to remember that we’re all in the same situation. Everyone’s dealing with something.”

Town closings and cancellations so far:

Kennedy Center - Day support programs March 13 are canceled. At-home and individual programs continue as scheduled.

Police Department - All non-emergency services are suspended.

Town of Trumbull - Schools, libraries, and the senior center are closed. The March 14 SAT administration is canceled. Parent-teacher conferences are canceled. All rec and sports programs are canceled until further notice.