Vulnerable people and those with underlying health conditions have been asked not to attend mass, funerals or the celebration of confirmation.

At this time, the celebration of mass will continue as normal, and people who do attend are asked to "keep a safe distance from one another", where possible.

The new guidelines were issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, which said that at this time, its concern "has to be for the elderly, the ill and those with underlying medical conditions" and that it encourages "positive engagement" with the new measures.

Hand sanitiser will be provided at each church, while priests and ministers will have to sanitise their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion.

Priests have also been asked to provide an alternative to collection baskets, while holy water fonts will remain empty and the sign of peace is still suspended.

The conference says that while the Sacrament of Confirmation will continue as normal for now, it "may have to be postponed at very short notice in the light of future advice from the public health authorities".

Those attending funerals are also advised not to shake hands while sympathising.

The conference says that the Church "awaits official guidance from the public health authorities in the event of a deterioration in the situation".