PARISHES across the county have been preparing for the re-opening of churches to allow private prayer.
Most Church buildings in Tyrone have been closed since 28th March by public order, but are now set to reopen to allow parishioners to visit for private prayer only.
The reopening comes after the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to allow churches to open for private prayer in its first phase of easing restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Measures are now being introduced at parishes across the county to ensure social distancing is applied, and churches are a safe place to visit.
Increase hand sanitising and reduced pews are among the options being explored to ensure the safe reopening of local places of worship.
Speaking to the Herald previously, Cappagh Parish Priest Fr Kevin McElhennon said he supported re-opening the churches for private prayer as long as it was done in a safe matter while adhering to health guidelines.
Fr McElhennon said the church is an important part of people’s daily life, and especially now as people are out for their walk, and could come into the church and say a prayer.
He added that measures would be introduced to ensure that people would be safely distanced and adhere to the guidelines so parishioners would be safe.
Meanwhile, a post on Greencastle Parish’s Facebook told parishioners that a date and opening times for re-opening will be announced in due course, but precautions were being put in place.
The post said that a sanitizing station for the entrance porch of each church is being purchased, while social distancing – six feet away from another person not of your household – will be in force with poster and other reminders.
The parish also aims to introduce a one way system and entrance in both churches will be through the main porch and exit via the side porch.
A door will be kept open at all times to avoid need to open and close doors, and opening days and times will be dependent on availability of cleaners for the church.