The Revd Gethin Rhys, Policy Officer of Cytûn: Churches together in Wales, has produced a helpful note on the latest Coronavirus Regulations for Wales, which we reproduce with his permission.
At 4 pm yesterday, 1 June, new Regulations came into effect in Wales: the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, as amended. The Office of the Legislative Counsel in the Welsh Government has published the legal text (showing all changes) here.
The new Regulations emphasise staying local (rather than only staying at home), and that meeting other people in the open air is safer than meeting indoors. The full guidance can be read here.
There are no substantial changes in the Regulations regarding closing places of worship or conducting funerals. The one addition is that it is now legal, when invited, to travel to attend a wedding or civil partnership ceremony where one of the partners is terminally ill, and to use a place of worship to hold such a wedding service – with arrangements very similar to those for holding funerals in places of worship. However, as marriage law is not devolved, it is not yet possible to arrange to register such a marriage except through a Special Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury if the wedding is to take place (eg) in a hospital or by Common Licence issued by a Surrogate appointed to act on behalf of a local Diocesan Bishop if it is to be held in a church – which means that only the Church in Wales (and the Church of England) may hold such services at present. There are discussions ongoing between the Welsh Government and the General Register Office regarding extending the possibility of conducting weddings (and, where relevant, civil partnerships) in such circumstances to other places of worship.
The Welsh Government’s Faith Communities Forum meets tomorrow, Wednesday, to discuss what could be the next steps with regard to reopening places of worship for some additional purposes in a way which is practical and safe for all concerned. This is a complex matter because the requirements of the various faith communities are so different. It is not expected that any changes to the current situation will be introduced before 22 June at the very earliest.