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Four main church denominations in all of Ireland introduce face coverings voluntarily

by Cara Bentley

Despite not being forced to by either government, churches in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are encouraging church-goers to wear face masks to protect one another. 

The decision was made by all the major denominations: the Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, the Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church. 

A statement by the four church leaders says: "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 for our health workers, and practical love for our neighbours."

They say that after talking with public health authorities and other Christian leaders, they are now "formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing."

This is advised from 30th August and earlier if people wish. 

The urge does not apply to those leading a church service at the front, however they are encouraged to keep four metres away from the front row of the congregation. 

Most Rev Eamon Martin, Most Rev John McDowell, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce and Rev Dr Tom McKnight also add that they understand many people are exempt. 

In England and Scotland, face coverings should be worn in church. In Wales, they are only required on public transport.

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