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Archbishop criticises limit on numbers attending Mass while shops are 'brimming with people'

Churches and other places of worship will be reopened on 29 June.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin pictured here with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin pictured here with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin has criticised public health advice which allows for a maximum of 50 people in attendance at Mass while “large retail outlets [are] brimming with people”. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced yesterday that religious buildings and places of worship can reopen in Phase 3 starting on 29 June but that indoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 50 people. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin today criticised the decision and said it would mean less than 1% of people in many parishes – many of which number in the thousands – being able to gather for Mass.

“It seems strange that in a Church with a capacity of 1,500 people which has been scrupulously fitted out for conformity with social distancing and with clear indications about movement and interaction of people within Church, that only 50 people might be present, while we all see a situation in which large retail outlets brimming with people,” he said. 

He called for “a more reasonable and responsible” approach for churches where there is capacity to hold more than 50 people while still abiding to public health advice on social distancing.

“The numbers would not be very large. In some cases, it is not just a question of the limitation to 50 people in a large parish Church, but this would effectively mean that only 50 people out of a parish of over 10,000 might be able to attend.”

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He also said that under the current limitations, around 10 families would be able to attend a mass service.

In his address yesterday, Varadkar said: “Mass gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors until 20 July. All going well, this will rise to 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors thereafter.”

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