WORSHIPPERS at at least one York church will no longer be given Communion wine - because of concerns that the coronavirus might be passed on via the chalice.

Our Lady’s Acomb RC Church has tweeted that following advice from the Middlesbrough Diocese about the virus, Communion will not be distributed from the Chalice ‘until further notice.’

It said the ‘Sign of Peace’ at Mass - which involves worshippers shaking hands with each other - will also be omitted, adding: “Sorry, but better to be safe than sorry.”

The diocese’s care & welfare officer, Audrey Kirby, has said in a memo to all clergy: “Until the risks of the virus spreading improves, may I suggest that you consider the following: Suspend the sign of peace. Not to distribute Holy Communion from the Chalice.”

The Middlesbrough diocese’s advice comes despite the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales recently issuing guidelines which state: “There is no need, as things stand, for the Chalice to be withdrawn or the sign of peace suspended, such as was advised during the 2009 ‘flu pandemic.

“This advice would only come if we had a very serious epidemic in the UK and at the time of writing this is unlikely.”

Meanwhile the Anglican York Diocese is issuing similar advice to the Catholic diocese to any churches who ask it for guidance on coronavirus.

It said: “The Diocese of York advises that where there are any concerns about coronavirus, Holy Communion should be received as bread alone.”

It added that a practice of dipping the bread in the cup of wine was not an effective way of preventing transmission of the virus. “In addition, it leads to the wine becoming unsafe for those who have an allergy to wheat and is discouraged.”