50-person limit at Mass can be lifted in certain churches

The Government has published new guidelines that will allow more than 50 attend public Masses in certain churches.

The guidelines come too late to facilitate churches and parishes which decided not to host public Masses this weekend due to the 50-person limit.

However, they are likely to permit more parishes to host weekend Masses next weekend.

The guidelines follow a Cabinet decision where the size of the premises allows for a capacity of greater than 50 this may be permitted only where:

•Social distancing guidelines are adhered to.

•The premises can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section.

•There is a minimum of 4m between sections.

•Each section having its own entrance/exit route.

•There are separate arrangements for elements of the service involving close contact, e.g. the distribution of Holy Communion.

•Strictly no movement of people between sections before, during or after the service.

•The premises is well-ventilated.

Account must also be taken regarding the risk of congregation by people outside before and after any services, having regard to outdoor overall limits on mass gatherings and arrangements for staggered exiting after ceremonies.

The use of face coverings is strongly recommended for such indoor settings.

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