March 13, 2020
The health and safety of our members and Scottish Rite leaders is paramount above all. The purpose of this communication is to provide some guidance from your Supreme Council concerning the new coronavirus (COVID-19) which now has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic spread throughout much of our world. The spread of the virus has the potential to touch virtually all corners of social life across the jurisdiction — community meetings, sports events, travel — and yes, Masonic gatherings.
I call on Scottish Rite leaders and members to follow the most conservative guidelines available from leading global and local health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO. Always abide by national, state, and local gathering restrictions within your valleys and remain good stewards of our members.
As you are aware, the CDC updates the risk assessment of the virus daily in this rapidly changing situation. You can find the CDC guidelines at this link. Please follow every precaution as you conduct your events in the coming weeks with decisions being made to put the health and well-being of members and guests as the first priority.
Recognizing that we are national in nature and that the level of concern varies depending on location, the reality is that the majority of our membership is within that age category identified as most vulnerable and, consistent with that, many have spouses and family members similarly vulnerable. As such, we all must be vigilant.
I want you all to consider the following:
- If you or members of the Valley are ill, stay home;
- If someone in your home is at risk, stay home;
- If you have recently traveled outside of the United States; stay home;
- If you or members of the Valley have preexisting health conditions, stay home;
- If there is a reunion or gathering, enforce a “handshake free zone” and display signs like this:
- If there is a feeling within a Valley that a meeting ought to be cancelled, then the meeting should be cancelled. It is better to err on the side of caution than to impose a meeting on a Valley no matter how important such a meeting might be;
- If a candidate is not able to attend a mandatory degree because of medical concerns and caution, then appropriate Dispensation may be requested;
- Since some of our work involves physical contact of a tactile nature, it is strongly recommended that this be avoided. For example, rather than performing such contact, the action should be described but not applied;
- It is strongly recommended that any sharing of food or drink not happen;
- Consideration should be given to performing degree work out of costume so as to avoid the sharing of wardrobe or other props that may be of concern;
- Seating within Lodge Rooms or at Valley reunions can be arranged so as to preserve appropriate distance among brethren;
- A review of the Valley facility should take place to ensure that there are adequate hand sanitizers and other appropriate hygienic supplies.
This pandemic will not affect 33rd allocations for your Valley, period. I will work closely with your Deputy to make sure your Valley gets what it is rightfully due.
Above all, during this difficult time as always, we must be guided by common sense and not be blinded by panic or hysteria. I can assure you that any reasonable accommodations that might be required and implemented by a Valley in the interest of safety will be received favorably by Supreme Council.
As the future course of this situation unfolds, there may be more steps that need to be taken, however, I am confident that, with the wisdom found within each of our Valleys, appropriate decisions will be made in a manner most applicable to that local situation.
Finally, a reminder that this is a time for us to pay particular attention to our brethren who may be in need and who may require assistance. If you are worried about a fellow member or his family please keep in contact with them via telephone, text, or email. Let us all keep an eye on each other and be ready to exercise our masonic benevolence where able.
Fraternally and most sincerely,
David A Glattly, 33°