Coronavirus: Archbishops’ and Bishops’ Statement

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement tonight, 23 March 2020, the Church of England has issued the following statement:


Archbishops and Bishops: stay at home but continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have urged everyone to follow the instructions given by the Prime Minister to stay in their homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

But they called on the Church to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”.

It follows the announcement by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sweeping restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

It means all Church of England churches will close with immediate effect in line with the Government’s instructions. There will also be no weddings or baptisms.

Funerals can still go ahead but within strict limits with only the closest family in attendance and essential physical distancing measures in place.

In a joint statement the bishops said: He said: “In the light of the Government’s measures, announced by the Prime Minister this evening, we urge everyone to follow the instructions given.

“We will give a fuller statement of advice as soon as possible. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.”

Notes

Detailed advice and guidance to churches on coronavirus is available on the Church of England website.


Comment

At 20:30 on 23rd March, the Prime Minister’s stated that to ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, it would immediately [emphasis added]:

  • close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
  • we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
  • and we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

In addition, the only reasons one should leave home are:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The government has also produced guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK, (as of 23 March 2020).

The Church of England has stated that its page Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches is to be updated with new FAQs, a message echoed by the dioceses, such as that from the Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, who indicated that a fuller statement of advice would be issued as soon as possible.

Links to the new FAQs will be included on our Coronavirus updates – index pageA further Press Release was issued on 24 March confirming the closure with immediate effect of its buildings, including for private prayer, in an effort to help limit the transmission of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Coronavirus: Archbishops’ and Bishops’ Statement" in Law & Religion UK, 23 March 2020, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-archbishops-and-bishops-statement/

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