NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- President Trump announced that churches across the nation can start having services again - while following their state's health protocols.

COVID-19 restrictions closed churches in the state for months, but today people spoke Western Mass News about how happy they are to be able to attend in-person services again.

"It’s a joy to have the people coming back because we’re not a church without the people," said Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Parish's Pastor Francis Reilly.

Church bells rang in Northampton on Saturday, but for the first time in months - the doors were open to welcome people back inside.

"Our hearts are there, we’re sharing in the body of Christ, we are very happy, and joyful we can be back in God's house," said Northampton's resident Patricia Budd.

State restrictions prohibited people from gathering for services back in Marc, but now churchgoers can come together again in-person while staying apart.

Lynn tomasauckas/goshen

"In the church it’s different because we have distancing, 6 feet of distancing and in the pews, we have distancing also," said Goshen resident Lynn Tomasauckas.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Parish in Northampton can normally fit around 600 people, but now with safety protocols in place; their maximum capacity is around 72 people.

Saturday afternoon, Reilly told Western Mass News they welcomed 45 people back into the parish.

In addition to the mask requirements and social distancing - the parish is also implementing a new way people receive communion.

"We received it after, there was a special way of doing it also and how to exit and still maintain distance with our masks on. Then you go towards the end and lift the mask and receive communion, beautiful," said Northampton resident Cynthia Nikonczyk

Although mass looks a little different than it normally would - churchgoers said it just feels good to be back.

"Although we can’t shake the hands of each other and although I want to hug people I haven’t seen in months, can’t do that, but that’s ok," Tomasauckas said.

The church will continue streaming masses live online for people who can’t make it in-person.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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