Face Coverings In Church
Thank you for continuing to ensure that our Masses and liturgies are safe places for all who join with us. it has become increasingly clear that the wearing of face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing, etc., is likely to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, thus helping to protect others. Their use is therefore one way in which we can evidence protection for the most vulnerable, support our health workers and practical love for our neighbours.
At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship, This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation, etc.
However, following further consultations with public health authorities, I, along with other Christian church leaders all over this island, am formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all Masses and other liturgical celebrations, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing, with immediate effect or as soon as practicable for you.
I understand that some people are exempted from wearing face coverings, as outlined in the two jurisdictions: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-face-coverings and https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings
I also recognise that whilst it may not be appropriate for the celebrant and some others (for example Ministers of the Word) to wear face coverings, they should at all times continue to maintain at least 2 metres physical distancing from one another, and four metres physical distancing from the front row of the congregation.
Most Reverend Eamon Martin