Church suspends sign of peace and empties holy water fonts due to coronavirus fears
Peace be with you *nods with hands in pockets...
The Catholic Church has suspended the use of holy water fonts and warned parishioners and clergy not to use the sign of peace at mass due to coronavirus fears.
The Dublin Archdiocese also said this week that all priests and members of the public should not attend mass for two weeks if they are ill.
It advised that communion should be taken into the hands and not placed on the receivers tongues by the priest or Eucharistic Minister.
The advice was issued in a guidance document from the Dublin Archdiocese designed to give general advice about preventing the spread of COVID-19 during religious services.
"Because COVID-19 is a new disease and appears to spread easily between people, we advise that holy water fonts should not be used," the document said.
"We suggest that physical interaction during religious services, including the Sign of Peace, should be suspended. For Christian religious services, the priest may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative Sign of Peace that does not involve hand contact (such as smile/nod/bow) if so wished.
"The practice of shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/ gatherings should be suspended for both religious leaders/clergy and laity."
The HSE said there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in Northern Ireland from a patient who travelled through the Republic of Ireland and is in isolation in Northern Ireland, receiving treatment.
Anyone identified as being in close contact with the patient has been contacted and they've been given advice from healthcare professionals.
The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still classified as low, according to the HSE, but that may change.