Some homeless day-services have closed because of Covid-19 concerns. 

This comes as one homeless charity called for 24-hour services for homeless using hostels or sleeping rough. 

Homeless and Drug service charity Merchant's Quay Ireland has closed its building but continues to offer a take-out food service and a take-out needle exchange. 

The Capuchin Day Centre, run by Br Kevin Crowley, at Bow Street in Dublin has closed. 

The day-centre feeds 300 people in the morning, and 600 in the evening most days.

Following advice from doctors, and after guidelines on the numbers of people gathering were announced by government yesterday, a decision was made to close the Capuchin day-centre. 

Br Crowley explained that because more that 100 people gather there at any one time when the centre is open the decision was made to close the day service. 

Food is now being given to people as take-away. However, they can eat it at the Capuchin Friary church on Church Street. 

"The centre itself is not open. We were advised that we were to close the centre. What we are doing is we are providing food for the people," said Br Kevin. 

"We are concerned about the homeless people. We don't want to see anyone going hungry. The doctor and the nurse are also available here," he said. 

Access to the doctor and nurse continues because the numbers of people attending are limited and so not exceed 100. 

Other day services like the Mendicity Institution on Island Street near Ushers Island are seeing increased numbers using its service. 

"Most of the people that are here now are rough sleepers or people that are using night time only hostels or one night only bookings," said Mendicity Institution CEO Loiusa Santoro. 

"This is a far from normal day for us. It is certainly much busier than usual. There seems to be no other place right now where people can spend some time if they are asked to leave hostels in the morning and can't return until the evening time. This means they are coming here," she added.

Ms Santoro stressed concerns she has for homeless people.

"I'm concerned that there are limited options available to somebody in the current arrangement who is asked to leave a hostel in the morning or who is sleeping rough," she said.

"If anyone becomes ill we are all being asked to maintain some level of social distance. If someone does become ill they have nowhere where they can access any level of support. They don't have anywhere they can spend some time," she added. 

She called for 24-hour services for homeless people. 

"We need a 24-hour service. There needs to be a continuum of service over a 24-hour period which currently doesn't exist. People are provided with a night time only shelter but during the day they are asked to leave and they are left to their own devices. That simply isn't going to be good enough if people are unwell. It is not going to be good enough if people need extra care," said Ms Santoro.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive said that most of its beds are 24-hour and contingency plans are in place for the coronavirus, and it is likely it would put in place something like its severe weather guidelines to deal with what's happening. 

In a statement it said: "The DRHE is working closely with the four Dublin Local Authorities and Homeless Service Providers in coordinating the response to Covid-19 related public health concerns among users of emergency accommodation and rough sleepers. In this regard, a homeless services specific HSE guidance note has issued to all local authorities and homeless service providers. 

"In addition, the DRHE has been consulting with service provider partners regarding contingency plans across Homeless Services and have introduced a range of precautions aimed at minimising the risk of infection among service users and staff, including hygiene arrangements and limiting the need for travel and movement between services. The large majority of our single placements are already long-term placements, operated on a 24-basis. In response to Covid-19, where possible, the DRHE has converted night access only facilities into 24-hour placements. 

"Some night access placements are still required, particularly for clients who request an emergency bed late in the evening, or for clients that were booked in during the day but did not avail of the placement."