Today, 24 June, the Government has issued somewhat ambivalent updated guidance, Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do after 4 July (ie in England). The relevant extracts on places of worship are as follows:
“1.17 Can weddings go ahead?
Yes, from 4 July, weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed to take place. You should only invite close friends and family, up to a maximum of 30 people. The wedding exception is for wedding ceremonies only. Large wedding receptions or parties should of course not be taking place. Wedding celebrations can only happen when people follow the guidance of six people outdoors, support bubbles, or two households indoors or outdoors. It is critical for these guidelines to be observed to keep you and your family and friends as safe as possible.
1.18 Can I pray in a place of worship?
Yes, from 4 July, places of worship can open for services and group prayer and strongly advised to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. You will be able to independently pray or hold a religious ceremony in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other places of worship.
We advise that you limit your close social interaction in these venues to your own household and up to one other, wherever possible. When attending a place of worship, for ceremonies or services, it is important to observe the social distancing guidelines.”
Which was slightly ambiguous.
The comments above relate to all places of worship in England; however, the House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued its own clarification after a virtual meeting:
“The House welcomed clarification from the Government that a limit of 30 people in total applied to weddings, and that numbers for worship would differ depending on the context” [emphasis added].
Our post, House of Bishops Statement on Government COVID-19 guidance, addresses these and canon law issues specific to the Church of England.