Church leaders across the island of Ireland have called on people to wear face coverings at all services of worships to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church Of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church urged worshippers to wear facemasks when attending services as well as maintaining a two metre physical distance from other church goers.
While the wearing of masks in churches has not been made mandatory by the governments north and south of the Border, church representatives said it had become increasingly clear that wearing face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing and other measures, could help reduce the spread of the virus and thus protect others.
It remains churches’ responsibility to “ensure that our services of worship are safe for all who join with us,” said the statement.
“Following further recent consultations with public health authorities, we join with Christian church leaders all over this island in formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship, along with the ongoing maintenance of two metre physical distancing, from Sunday 30th August 2020, and earlier if practicable.”
Using masks can help protect the most vulnerable, show support for our health workers and practical love for our neighbours, noted the statement which was issued by Catholic Primate Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Rt Rev John McDowell, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland Rt Rev Dr David Bruce and president of the Methodist Church in Ireland RT Rev Dr Tom McNight.
The statement acknowledged that some people were exempted from the wearing of face coverings and that it may not be appropriate for those leading during worship to cover their mouth and nose but encouraged all church goers to continue to maintain at least two metres from other people and four metres physical distance from the front row of the congregation.