From a reader…
Can a bishop lawfully ban the faithful from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue in the midst of a flu outbreak or for some other reason?
This sounds to me like overkill… perhaps even hysteria.
I think a bishop can not do this, since reception on the tongue is the normative means of receiving Holy Communion.
He could encourage reception in the hand for sanitary reasons. Of course you could make a counter-argument that our hands are by far the more likely the culprit in spreading of diseases.
Were there a major epidemic, or SHFT-level TEOTWAWKI pandemic – HEY! We are due… wayyyy past due! – I could see encouraging people to make spiritual Communions, especially if the bishops and priests are themselves infected.
That said, in the current environment, were this to happen, were a bishop to issue such a decree, and were someone appeal to Rome against this decree, I can’t say what sort of response they would get, if they got one at all.
Remember: You are not obliged to go to Communion at every Mass.