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Government 'hopes to see' rules around Communions and Confirmations eased next month

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 said it will engage with church leaders in the coming weeks.

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THE GOVERNMENT HAS said in a statement this evening that it notes concerns raised by church leaders in recent days and hopes to lift restrictions on Communions and Confirmations in September.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19, which includes the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and senior ministers, met earlier today to discuss a range of issues associated with the pandemic and rollout of the vaccination programme. 

The statement addressed recent comments by Catholic bishops who criticised regulations around the sacraments. 

The Government, it said, “hopes to see those restrictions lifted in September, subject to the public health situation at that time. The Government will engage further with relevant faith group leaders in the coming weeks”.

The statement also said that disease incidence remains high and is continuing to increase, particularly in younger age cohorts. 

“The trajectory remains very uncertain. Disease profile varies across counties, with Donegal, Louth and Galway showing very high incidence rates.

“While incidence of serious illness and hospitalisations is lower than previous waves, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in hospital is steadily increasing, with 193 in hospital and 28 in ICU, as of this morning.

“The public health advice remains that those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid high risk environments and activities,” it said.

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It also revealed that the national testing, tracing and isolation service continues to operate effectively with 385,000 community tests conducted in July.

It said this “is among the highest levels of testing since the start of the pandemic” and part of a total of six million tests to date.

Meanwhile the vaccination programme continues to make significant progress, the statement said, with over 6 million vaccine doses now administered, comprising almost 3.2 million first doses and over 2.85 million people fully vaccinated. 

The level of uptake across all age groups in Ireland is high by international comparisons. Nearly 85% of people aged 16 and over have either registered or received at least one dose of vaccine.

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