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Orange Order says safety of members and community is priority, as parades halted due to coronavirus

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Orange Order parades have been stopped with immediate effect in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus

Orange Order parades have been stopped with immediate effect in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus

Orange Order parades have been stopped with immediate effect in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus

Orange Order parades have been stopped with immediate effect in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The institution's Grand Master Edward Stevenson wrote to members yesterday saying that all activities should stop. However, he called on them to volunteer to help out during the health crisis.

The letter, which was issued after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's appeal to limit social interaction, instructs members that all meetings, church services, events and parades should stop immediately until further notice.

However, the letter did not directly comment on what this means for the annual Twelfth of July celebrations.

The museums of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House and Sloan's House, Loughgall, also closed from yesterday, while Grand Lodge headquarters will close from Friday.

"I appreciate that our culture and traditions are very much a way of life for the Orange family; however in light of the current situation, we must all prioritise the safety of not only our members, but of the entire community," Mr Stevenson said.

"As an all-island organisation, we ask all members to follow fully the individual health advice of their respective governments.

"As this epidemic spreads and increases, the UK Government has indicated that they will be seeking volunteers for a 'wholehearted national effort' to 'help and support each other'.

"Therefore, I would appeal to all able-bodied members, who are not deemed to be at risk, to volunteer to assist in this work."

Lodges were also encouraged to maintain contact with all members, particularly older members, at this time and to pray for each other, the wider Orange family and the health professionals as they work to tackle the spread of the virus.

Belfast Telegraph