Following changes to the secondary legislation in Wales, the Welsh Government has issued Coronavirus regulations: guidance: a general guide to all the Regulations, published on April 24. It includes issues such as the use of places of worship, funerals, arranging repair work to a house (including a parsonage house) and moving house (which is permitted but only if it cannot be postponed).
On places of worship, it includes the following:
“I am a religious leader, can I go to my place of worship?
Yes, but you will not be able to hold services with other people present, other than funerals, where close family, friends and members of the deceased’s household can attend at the invitation of the funeral organiser. Please see the guidance on funerals for more information. You may broadcast (without a congregation) an act of worship or funeral, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast.”
The Welsh Government has also updated Coronavirus (COVID 19): closure of businesses and premises to make it clear that there is no legal requirement to close graveyards and gardens of remembrance, provided that those who attend are able to maintain 2 metres distance from one another.
It has also published Section 58 and Schedule 28 to the Coronavirus Act 2020: Local death management: detailed guidance on the use of the powers in the Act in relation to the introduction of emergency arrangements for dealing with the bodies of deceased persons. Section 5 includes guidance on how local authorities should ensure that the wishes of the departed, their families and faith communities should be respected as much as possible. It should be noted, however, that this would come into effect only in the event of an extreme emergency when a large number of deaths threatened to overwhelm the usual arrangements. Until such an emergency exists, the existing guidelines dated 3 April remain in force.
The current situation has raised a large number of ethical issues; and the Welsh Government has established a COVID-19 Moral and Ethical Guidance Group “to advise on issues relating to moral, ethical, cultural and faith considerations, and provide a source of advice to health services to inform equitable and just management of issues arising from the health care emergency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
[With thanks to Gethin Rhys, Policy Officer at Cytûn]