The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has welcomed new Government guidance on places of worship - it allows for gatherings greater than 50 people as long as certain criteria are met. 

He said parishes will work diligently to observe the new norms to ensure people can attend Mass safely.

Archbishop Martin also asked parishioners to note that the use of face coverings is "strongly recommended for indoor settings".

He said: "While these norms do limit a more joyful return to the public celebration of the sacraments that people have longed for, they are important steps forward and vital for the common good of all."

The Cabinet Committee on Ireland’s Covid-19 response released the detailed guidance for religious services. 

It said an assessment should be carried out for each premises to determine how many can attend within the requirements of social distancing. 

Where the size of the premises allows for a capacity of greater than 50, this may be permitted but 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 4 metres between sections

- Each section has its own entrance/exit route

- There are separate arrangements for elements of a religious 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 people congregating 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 indoor settings.