Churches to be exempt from 50-person coronavirus limit

Churches to be exempt from 50-person coronavirus limit Parishes have had to make do with online Masses due to coronavirus restrictions.

Churches and other places of worship will be exempt from the 50-person indoor limit, after the one-size-fits-all nature of the rule drew sharp criticism from religious leaders.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the restriction on Friday night, and on Saturday Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described the rule as “strange” and “disappointing”. He pointed out how the restriction was a blunt instrument since some churches could hold up to 1,500 people.

Meeting this afternoon, the Cabinet gave approval for churches and other places of worship to be exempted from the rule which will still apply to other indoor venues.

It will be welcomed by many parishes across the country who are preparing to re-open for public Masses on Monday (June 29). Plans had been in place to maximise the capacity of churches while maintaining social distancing, with many parishes saying they could hold roughly a third of their normal capacity.

The restriction had dramatically affected plans to re-open and facilitate as many parishioners as possible, and the Taoiseach said he would seek the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team. (NPHET).