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No changes to limits for weddings and funerals, places of worship to reopen next Tuesday

As we exit Level 5, people will have been wondering about whether they can attend mass or other religious services.

Image: Shutterstock/Joyseulay

PLACES OF WORSHIP will reopen next Tuesday, 1 December, as Ireland exits from Level 5. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement this evening in a nationwide address, where he outlined the measures in place over the Christmas period which will allow people to visit and spend time with family or friends. 

The Taoiseach said the country will move to Level 3 from 1 December, with some modifications.

Under Level 5, religious services could only be held online, while up to 25 mourners could attend funerals. 

Under level 3, services are also supposed to be online, with places of worship to remain open for private prayer.

Tonight, with the Christmas season approaching, the Taoiseach confirmed that places of worship will open from Tuesday 1 December. 

Services are allowed reopen but the limit on the number of worshippers under Level 3 has not changed – 50 people at mass unless the size of the premises allows for a greater capacity, 25 people at a funeral and 25 people at weddings. 

It was also confirmed that people are to wear facemasks in places of worship.

Guidance has been published for religious services which states:

  • Two metre social distancing should be adhered to;
  • Face coverings should be worn;
  • No congregation outside the premises before or after a service should be allowed
  • Stewards should be on site to ensure guidelines are followed;
  • Measures should be put in place to avoid overcrowding such as an advance booking system;
  • Services should not exceed one hour, with at least one hour between services to allow for cleaning and ventilation.

The government has also said it will issue specific guidance on choirs, chanting and congregational singing.

 Martin said tonight that there had been a “massive national effort” to push back the spread of Covid-19, and many sacrifices had been made by individuals and businesses. 

In a statement this evening, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson welcomed the opportunities offered under the easing of restrictions. 

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“Gathering is important in how people of faith function. This relates both to our self-understanding and to the positive contributions we make to civil society,” he said.

“Caution and care of others and of ourselves must be maintained as public health remains the guiding priority. Congregations have been asked to wear masks while in church and I urge everyone to continue to comply with the public health guidance.

“The restoration of the opportunities to worship, while modest in comparison with what we have been accustomed to doing, will gladden the hearts of members of my own diocese particularly at this time of year.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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