Churches in Ireland could be forced to set up booking systems for Christmas
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Churches in Ireland could be forced to set up booking systems for Christmas

IRELAND'S CHURCHES have been urged to set up online booking system in order to cater for the Christmas rush.

The initiative is also being encouraged as a way of keeping tabs on visitor numbers, which is particularly important when trying to adhere to social distancing rules.

Amid tight Covid-19 restrictions this festive season, some of the country's busiest churches may be forced to asked parishioners to book their spots for a place at Mass.

Ireland has officially entered Level Three restrictions as of Tuesday, and as such, religious services are limited to 50 people per service.

A select few larger churches will be granted permission to increase that number, but under very strict conditions.

Due to Christmas demand, which typically sees churches packed to the rafters, some priests have already begun setting up booking services, with many more churches expected to follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

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A senior Government spokesperson not only urged churches to set up ways of booking slots, but also advised them to schedule more services in order to satisfy demand and keep everyone safe.

"There was a little bit of concern that people wouldn't be able to get to Mass or Christmas Day Mass. We know that churches are looking at that and they are conscious that they want to do it safely," the spokesperson said.

"Depending on the church, where they are concerned about demand, they will have online booking."

Face masks must be worn - as per Level Three restrictions - during services, which are also not allowed to last more than one hour.

Churches have also been urged to set up other stricter restrictive measures to address the potential for overcrowding. Online booking systems and extra services aside, increased stewarding has also been suggested.