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U-turn on mourners as 25 people will now be allowed at both weddings and funerals

Cabinet has agreed to a change in the Level 5 guidance.

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THE CABINET HAS agreed to change the guidance relating to the number of people allowed at funerals under Level 5, increasing it to 25 people – the same number allowed at weddings. 

Announcing the country’s impending move to Level 5 from tomorrow night, government guidance last night outlined that the maximum number of mourners allowed at funerals would be 10 people, with weddings to be set at 25 guests. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last night that the reason for different advice was due to the fact that very few weddings would be taking place over the next couple of months.

Despite this, a number of politicians had queried the apparent discrepancy and Cabinet has agreed to change the guidance so that 25 people can attend funerals.

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen was among those to contact the Taoiseach and Tánaiste about the number of mourners to be allowed at funerals. 

He told TheJournal.ie that he had been assured the issue would be raised at Cabinet and hoped the issue could be “rectified”. 

I can understand the fear that is there about the attendance at funerals in recent times and the increase in congregation, but with the 5km restrictions that have come in and the greater solidarity there appears to be,  I don’t think it’s a concern. If 25 people can celebrate a wedding, I think a similar number could safely attend a funeral. 

“I lost my own mother recently and it was very difficult to have to restrict that to 25 people, it would be just devastating to reduce it further to 10 people. We’re undertakers too and we understand the burden that it can have on people,” Cowen added. 

The guidance around funerals has not been updated on the government’s Covid-19 website but this is likely to follow official confirmation. 

At present, 25 people are allowed attend weddings under Level 3 and this drops to 6 under Level 4. For funerals, it is 25 people under Level 3 and Level 4. 

Weddings

Speaking about weddings last night, the Taoiseach said “there doesn’t seem to be too many left this year”, and he added couples who are proceeding deserved additional clarity. 

“I feel reason has to break out, humanity has to break out and I think 25 guests to me is reasonable. I’m not too sure there’s too many more weddings left between now and Christmas. And I think that’s the least we could do to be frank,” he said. 

The Taoiseach had also expressed concern that in relation to funerals there can sometimes be more than one in a location on a given day and that “we just wanted to reduce congregation to the greatest extent possible”.

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Martin also confirmed last night that travelling to a wedding or funeral is an exemption for which people can travel outside their 5k and their county.

Government guidelines outline that the 25-person limit is in place for both the “wedding ceremony and reception” and that this is “irrespective of venue”. 

Hotels have been operating for the past number of months with weddings classified as exemptions, allowing more people attend receptions than had, for example, been allowed to meet for a meal. 

Under Level 5, hotels are to be allowed to remain open “to support the provision of essential services”. 

A spokesperson for the Irish Hotel Federation told TheJournal.ie that it is their understanding that weddings will again be exceptions to the guidelines in this regard, allowing receptions to take place in hotels with a 25-person limit.  

The group has however sought clarification on this point from the government and will wait on that clarification before publishing advice for its members. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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