Following the most up to date advice from public health authorities – North and South – the Archdiocese of Armagh are implementing the following important guidance immediately:
People who feel unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, high temperature) should not attend religious services but should stay at home and follow the advice of their GP and public health authorities. Parishioners should be reminded that they are dispensed from their Sunday obligation to attend Mass if they are unwell.
The Sign of Peace should be suspended at this time.
Similarly, the practice of shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/ gatherings should be suspended for both clergy and laity.
Holy Water fonts should not be used at this time.
Only the celebrant should drink from the Chalice.
Holy Communion should be administered into the hands only and NOT onto the tongue
Everyone administering Holy Communion should wash their hands or use alcohol based hand gel before beginning.
Parishes should take the following prudent actions:
- Supply tissues and alcohol based hand gel at religious services/gatherings
- Provide bins for disposal of tissues at religious gatherings.
- Ensure hand-washing facilities, including soap and disposable towels, are well maintained.
- Ensure all hard surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles, hand rails, taps and pews are cleaned regularly with a household detergent.
Parochial activities/social religious gatherings on church premises should follow sensible practices, including hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.
You may also find the following PDF link to guidance for religious services in relation to Coronavirus issued by the HSE useful: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/religioussettingsguidance/COVID%2019_Guidance%20for%20religious%20services%20V1.pdf