Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that the public must “keep up our guard” in the fight against Covid-19, especially during informal moments like religious ceremonies.
In a statement issued this morning, Bishop Leahy said Ireland is, "at a tipping-point again" as regards the fight against the spread of Covid-19, and that "individual responsibility could ensure the balance is in favour of public health."
He said: "Letting our guard down can be dangerous, but doing the basics around Covid-19 can be a life-saving service.
Bishop Leahy said the recent news that Dublin has moved onto level three of the Government’s 'Living with Covid' plan would remind the Irish public that "the battle against Covid-19 is far from over."
Limerick has also seen a marked increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Data revealed yesterday showed than that north Limerick City has a Covid-19 incidence rate of 126.1 per 100,000 people - one if Ireland's highest rates outside Dublin.
"If we’re honest, however, I believe we need all of us to be more careful with ‘the standing around’ moments in the ‘in-between’ times – whether it be after significant social events, after funerals, after special celebratory moments.
“We’re human, we like to socialise and chat. It’s natural we find ourselves letting our guard down and lingering for long periods of time in conversation and banter but forgetting social distance and masks. This can be very dangerous," he said.
Bishop Leahy suggested that some people would need to "take on the friendly referee role" and remind other people "when things are beginning to get too loose."
"We’ll be doing each other not just a favour but a life-saving service,” he said.
Bishop Leahy also said that he has been particularly pleased with the efforts and protocols introduced to help make churches safe.
"I have been very impressed by how much has gone into making sure churches are safe places and I thank those participating in liturgies for being so careful in wearing their mask, keeping social distance and sanitising. But we have work to do.”
"The difference is now that we know what to do but really need to tighten up and do it better again," he added.