Minister Paul Kehoe is urging the government's Public Health Emergency Committee to re-examine the numbers of people that will be allowed to attend services at their local churches after criticising a 'one size fits all' approach.
In the most recent announcement regarding the easing of restrictions, it was announced that places of worship will now be able to re-open to crowds of 50 people or less. Minister Kehoe says that, while welcome, this relaxation of the restrictions doesn't go far enough.
'We have some very large churches in this county,' he said. 'We've gone with this one size fits all approach, which seems totally unfair. In some of our bigger churches in Wexford town for example, you could easily accommodate larger crowds with a distance of two to three metres between them. Some of these churches could easily accommodate 100 to 150 people and still adhere to social distancing.'
'I've had a number of calls from priests across the diocese on this,' Minister Kehoe continued. 'There are ways and means of doing this. For example if a family of five attend Mass on a Sunday, that brings the total amount of people allowed down to 45, when in actual fact all of those people are from the one household and can sit together. For the most part, everyone in the church is facing the same way too, not face to face, and I know that priests around the diocese have been working very hard to implement measures to keep everyone safe. A lot of them now have communions and confirmations coming up and are left in a very difficult position.'
'I've been promised that the Public Health Emergency Committee will be looking at the situation and we have a cabinet meeting on Thursday at which I will be pushing for an update.'
Minister Kehoe is also seeking clarity on the issue of weddings and has stated that it's 'ridiculous' that hotel staff serving tables at a wedding reception are included in the number of 50. While this is to expand to 100 from July 20, he's saying that those imposing restrictions 'have to be real' and that a degree of trust needs to be placed in hotels to ensure these events take place in a safe manner.