Wearing a mask at services the new normal in Ireland

Wearing a mask at services has been recommended by the leaders of the four main Churches in Ireland.

Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin (pictured), Church of Ireland primate Archbishop John McDowell, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Rt Revd David Bruce and the Methodist Church in Ireland’s Revd Tom McKnight released a joint statement saying it is their responsibility “to ensure that our services of worship are safe places for all who join with us.”

The four prelates say their move followed recent consultations with public health authorities.

They say it has become clear that the wearing of face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing and other guidance, “is likely to reduce the spread of coronavirus, thus helping to protect others.”

Wearing a mask at services is “one way in which we can evidence protection for the most vulnerable, support for our health workers, and practical love for our neighbours,” they suggest.

Although it may not be appropriate for those who are leading from the front during worship, including preaching, to wear face coverings, the prelates said the leaders should always maintain at least two metres physical distancing from one another, and four metres physical distancing from the front row of the congregation.

Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns also recommended Catholics wear masks at public Masses and services, “in solidarity with the vast majority of our fellow citizens who actively promote and pursue as safe an environment as possible – in their homes, their places of work and where they shop or gather.”

Martin said face coverings should be worn in all but exceptional circumstances.

He stressed that especially in smaller places that are not well ventilated the wearing of face coverings is “ obligatory”.


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