January 13, 2021

Worship in England escapes new lockdown rules

by Interfaith


by Hattie Williams

“PLACES of worship are not required to close under a new national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister: “You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.”

Weddings can be held, but only in exceptional circumstances (such as imminent death) with up to six people. (The figure does not include those conducting the wedding.) The limit on funerals  remains at 30; the number permitted at a wake is no more than six. As before, face coverings are mandatory in all indoor settings, including places of worship.

The Bishop of London the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said : “The Prime Minister’s words tonight underline the severity of the situation for the country, as the virus continues to spread rapidly. At a time like this, the Church is here to offer comfort and spiritual support to everyone. We have a duty to care for each other, but particularly those who are vulnerable or who may be most at risk.

“The Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England at this time, and we will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible. The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.”

People may wish to continue to stay at home, and churches may choose not to open, she said. She encouraged clergy and others who were shielding to “take particular care and stay at home”.

A similar lockdown in Scotland, announced by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier on Monday  instructed churches to close.

Northern Ireland  entered a six-week lockdown on 26 December and plans to put its stay-at-home message into law. Places of worship remain open for general worship (numbers depend on individual risk assessments; meetings for anything other than worship fall under the 15-person limit), funerals and weddings (both up to 25 people), and private prayer.

Wales has also been in a national lockdown since 20 December, under which places of worship may open for general worship, funerals, weddings, baptisms, and private prayer. Limits on numbers are determined by the capacity of the building.” …

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