WORSHIPPERS in some parts of Dorset have been told they can start sharing a communion wine cup again – while in other parts of the county the practice will continue to be suspended.

Fears over swine flu led to many churches being advised to suspend the use of a common cup for communion in the summer.

Now churches in the Anglican diocese of Salisbury – which includes Poole, part of Bournemouth, Blandford, Swanage, and Wimborne – are being advised to make the communal wine cup freely available again.

But the chalice will continue to be suspended from use at Diocese of Winchester churches, which include those in Bournemouth.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev David Stancliffe, has told clergy in the diocese to move to “a lower level of precautions” following the summer peak in the epidemic.

The Bishop’s advice follows a reported drop in the weekly rate of swine flu infections from 100,000 in July to 4,500 in mid September.

“This change in status means that, for the time being, the common cup may be reintroduced and the peace should be exchanged during the celebration of the Eucharist,” a spokesman for diocese said. Blandford Forum Parish Church had adopted the new guidelines with “immediate effect,” said parish priest the Rev Tim Storey.

“It is my hope and prayer that we will not see a fresh wave of the virus but should that be the case, we will need to review the situation as and when it arises,” said Mr Storey.

But a spokesperson for the Diocese of Winchester said the diocese would continue to follow “guidelines from the national church” recommending the suspension of the sharing of the chalice at communion.

The Rev Cannon Rob Peters said parishioners at St Paul’s Church in Throop had no immediate concerns with the policy, adding that he expected the diocesan advice to be reviewed “in a month or two’s time”.

Recommendations not to use a common cup in communion services also remain unchanged at Catholic churches in Bournemouth, said Father Anthony Pennicott, the parish priest of the Church of the Sacred Heart.

Sacrament would continue to be received on the hand instead of the tongue, and the sign of peace would remain a bow instead of a handshake, said Father Pennicott.