As the Deputy is aware, on 19 June 2020, the then Taoiseach, on behalf of the Government, announced the restrictions that would be eased and the measures that will be in place in Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business. On Thursday 25th June the Government confirmed the move to Phase 3 of the Roadmap from Monday, 29 June 2020. Information and advice about the restrictions that have been eased as part of Phase 3 and the measures that are now in place are available on the Government website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/d06271-easing-the-covid-19-restrictions-on-29-june-phase-3/.
Gatherings of 50 people (indoor) and 100 people (outdoor) are permissible in line with the public health guidance on mass gatherings, which is also available on the Government website at https://www.gov.ie/pdf/?file=https://assets.gov.ie/77452/39d51b02-5633-4e2f-a070-4551a3521081.pdf#page=6. The limits will increase to 100 (indoors) and 500 (outdoors) in phase 4. This will be subject to continued progressive improvements in the health indicators identified in the Framework for Future Decision-Making described in the Roadmap.
As the Deputy will be aware, religious buildings and places of worship may also now be reopened, in line with public health guidelines. The Government has exempted places of worship from the regulations restricting numbers on mass gatherings. The exemption applies to places of worship only and not to any gatherings that may take place after the religious ceremony such as wedding receptions.
Detailed Covid-19 Guidance has been developed for religious services. The Cabinet Committee reviewed the guidance, which state that an assessment should be carried out for each premises to determine how many can attend within the requirements of social distancing.
The Cabinet Committee decided that where the size of the premises allows for a capacity of greater than 50 this may be permitted only where:
- Social distancing guidelines are adhered to
- The premises can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section
- There is a minimum of 4m between sections
- Each section has its own entrance/exit route
- There are separate arrangements for elements of the service involving close contact, e.g. the distribution of Holy Communion
- Strictly no movement of people between sections before, during or after the service
- The premises is well-ventilated.
Account must also be taken regarding the risk of congregation by people outside before and after any services, having regard to outdoor overall limits on mass gatherings and arrangements for staggered exiting after ceremonies
The use of face coverings is strongly recommended for such indoor settings.