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Coronavirus: Catholic Church suspends sign of peace and provides hand sanitiser

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Collection baskets are still being passed around Catholic Churches - although handshakes as a sign of peace are suspended. (stock photo)

Collection baskets are still being passed around Catholic Churches - although handshakes as a sign of peace are suspended. (stock photo)

Collection baskets are still being passed around Catholic Churches - although handshakes as a sign of peace are suspended. (stock photo)

Collection baskets are still being passed around Catholic Churches - although handshakes as a sign of peace are suspended.

However, the church is asking priests to provide "an alternative" to the practice of passing collection baskets due to coronavirus.

New guidelines from the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference say people who do attend church should, where possible, "keep a safe distance from one another".

People with underlying health conditions and the vulnerable are being asked not to attend.

Hand sanitiser will now be provided at each church, while priests will have to sanitise their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion. Holy water fonts will remain empty and the sign of peace is on hold.

While confirmation ceremonies will continue for now, they may have to be postponed "at very short notice".

The Church of Ireland says services are still taking place as normal around the country.

The Presbyterian Church is "monitoring closely this evolving situation across the island and will be guided throughout by the public health authorities in both jurisdictions".

Belfast Telegraph