Church buildings re-open for private prayer

The Government’s announcement that from Monday 15 June 2020 church buildings in England will be allowed to re-open for private prayer has been welcomed by senior Church Leaders. Roman Catholic bishops in particular had been pressing for the re-opening of church doors, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols described the move as ‘a big step forward for society.’

The Government has not set a limit to how many individuals may be allowed in a church building at one time for this purpose. The assessment of risk lies with the local management of the building, at whichever level that is undertaken. Social distancing must be maintained at all times. Those responsible for places of worship still have discretion over when they consider it safe to open for this limited activity.

While individuals or members of the same household may enter a church building to pray, organised and led services are still not permitted. This includes weddings, baptisms, ordinations and worship services. Essential voluntary activities in church buildings, such as blood donation and Foodbanks, homeless services, and registered early-years and childcare provision continue to be allowed. The opening of church buildings for tourism remains prohibited. There is no change to the regulations concerning the holding of funerals with a small number of people in attendance.

Further work is being undertaken by the Government to assess both when church buildings might be able to be open for public worship or communal prayer, and the continuing regulation of those aspects of communal worship which might represent a risk of viral transmission, including singing and the playing of musical instruments. The Government will indicate when the scientific evidence suggests that it is safe for church buildings to open for corporate worship.

Read the Government’s statement about the opening of church buildings HERE and its guidelines for the safe re-opening of places of worship HERE. Follow advice on the safe use of church buildings from the Church of England HERE, the Roman Catholic Church HERE, the United Reformed Church HERE, the Baptist Union HERE and the Methodist Church HERE.

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