The Diocese of Bridgeport will begin holding outdoor masses on May 21, Bishop Frank Caggiano announced on Monday.

The diocese, which includes all Roman Catholic churches in Fairfield County, will hold masses in one of two ways, Caggiano said.

The first format will offer seating arranged according to “proper social distancing,” and will support a maximum of 50 people. The second will involve parishioners remaining seated in their cars. The number of cars permitted will depend upon the size of the parking lot, the need to distance cars six feet apart from each other and allow for the safe exit of any car in case of an emergency.

“This is the first step in a process that will remain consistent with Governor Ned Lamont’s call for the gradual reopening of the state in a way that safeguards public health and safety. It is my hope that the reopening of our churches, which represents phase two in our planning process, may be possible soon,” Caggiano said.

All services will be optional.

Caggiano also recommended that those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, especially the elderly, stay sheltered at home until further notice. Some services, he said, will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend.

“Whatever we plan must avoid a possible relapse in the progress we have made to eradicate this silent killer from our midst. As a result, we will move forward in a gradual, systematic and responsible manner to resume public worship safeguarding the health and safety of our clergy and faithful,” Caggiano said.