Private prayer update – yet another change

The Church of England has issued the following Press Release after yet another change by the Government on the date from which churches in England will be permitted to reopen for private prayer.

Government update on date for places of worship opening for individual private prayer


Following a recent announcement that places of worship could reopen for individual private prayer from June 15, the Government has now revised the date in guidance just published to June 13.

If churches are ready to open earlier than planned, they may of course do so, however many may wish to wait until June 15 or later to do so in line with their existing plans.

Although the guidance allows for places of worship to reopen, as always the decision of how and when to begin the process of doing so for individual private prayer will be taken locally.


Having indicated on 5 June that the date for private prayer was not then known, late on the following evening of 6 June, it was necessary for the Church of England to issue a statement after the Government announced that church buildings can open up for supervised individual prayer from 15 June. However, at the coronavirus press conference on 10 June 2020, the Prime Minister then stated:

“Finally, we will allow places of worship to open for individual prayer this weekend. And I hope that will be of some comfort to those of faith who have been unable to go to their place of worship”.

The accompanying Press Release stressed that it was “Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered”. However, the Bishop of Liverpool was quick to clarify that:

“In @LivDiocese churches will have the option of opening for private prayer, depending on their local situation & on local resources available, from Monday (15th). Parish clergy will make these decisions for their own context. I trust my colleagues and will support them in this”.

Quite so. Whether church open is currently a matter for government, but when churches are opened is not within its gift; furthermore, the overarching guidance is permissive, not mandatory.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Private prayer update – yet another change" in Law & Religion UK, 11 June 2020,

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