Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has welcomed new guidelines issued by the Irish government on Friday evening allowing places of worship to have more than 50 people present for liturgies under certain conditions.

Public Masses restarted in Ireland on June 29 as the country eased restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but the government imposed a 50 person limit for any activities taking place indoors.

Martin had criticized the government for the limit, noting that some large churches with a capacity of over 1000 people could easily accommodate more than 50 worshippers while observing social distance guidelines.

The government guidelines will allow more than 50 attendees under certain conditions: The size of the premises allows for greater capacity and can be cordoned off into 50-person sections with 4 meters between sections, social distancing guidelines are adhered to, there are separate arrangements for distribution of Communion and other times during a Mass involving close contact, and the church is well-ventilated.

“Parishes will work diligently with the new norms to ensure people can attend Mass safely – these are important steps forward and vital for the common good of all,” Martin said.