Breaking news: COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship in England

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has this morning, 12 June, issued COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic

The guidance notes that, currently, under the provisions of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020:

“places of worship are permitted to open solely for the following purposes:

    • funerals, in line with restrictions on those who can attend as per Regulation 7(2)(b)
    • to broadcast an act of worship, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast
    • to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions, or support in an emergency
    • for early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006.”

The guidance notes that from 13 June 2020, places of worship will be permitted to open for individual prayer, “depending on the most up to date scientific advice of the risk posed by the virus: (see section 4)”. Importantly for organists, section 4 states:

“Activities such as singing and/or playing instruments should be avoided, with the exception of organists who are able to use buildings for practice with appropriate social distancing. The government is continuing to work on scientific and medical advice around how such activities can best be managed safely and further guidance will follow on this shortly.”

The guidance is very extensive and would repay careful reading by anyone who is proposing to reopen a place of worship for private prayer in the near future. 

And here are the latest Regulations, made at noon today.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Breaking news: COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship in England" in Law & Religion UK, 12 June 2020, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2020/06/12/breaking-news-covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-in-england/

6 thoughts on “Breaking news: COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship in England

  1. Is an organist permitted to accompany a minister singing hymns, chants etc. provided they are two metres distant as part of worship led via a broadcast?

    • Not really a question for us to answer, but personally I don’t think this could be regarded as “practice”. Perhaps CofE guidance will be issued covering matters such as that. dp

    • The Church of England COVID-19 Advice on the Conduct of Public Worship addresses this at Q12. What about those worshippers who are over 70 or clinically vulnerable, those who may have symptoms, and those self-isolating?
      Whilst there is no ban on going to church for those who are over 70, whether they do so or not will depend upon their health, the arrangements at their place of worship, and whether they are comfortable with these for their particular circumstances.

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