The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference is asking vulnerable people and those with underlying health conditions not to attend Mass, funerals or the celebration of Confirmation in the context of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

At this time, the celebration of Mass will continue as normal, and people who do attend are asked to “keep a safe distance from one another”, where possible. Those attending funerals are also advised not to shake hands while sympathising.

The new guidelines were issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Wednesday 11 March following the conclusion of their three-day Spring General Meeting in Maynooth. Bishops said that at this time, its concern “has to be for the elderly, the ill and those with underlying medical conditions” and that it encourages “positive engagement” with the new measures.

Hand sanitiser will be provided at each church, while priests and ministers will have to sanitise their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion.

Priests have also been asked to look at providing an alternative to collection baskets. Holy water fonts will remain empty and the sign of peace is still suspended.

The Bishops’ Conference said that the Sacrament of Confirmation will continue as normal for now, but acknowledged that it “may have to be postponed at very short notice in the light of future advice from the public health authorities”.

Concluding their statement the Bishops said they await “official guidance from the public health authorities in the event of a deterioration in the situation”.

You can read the guidelines in full here.