With regard to the ban in England from 14 September on “social gatherings” of more than six people, the Archbishop of Canterbury tweeted
After contact with Government we hear that there is no change to guidance on places of worship. Worship is the work of God – not a social gathering – and gives the strength to love and serve.
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) September 9, 2020
Subsequently, the Church of England issued the following statement:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): restrictions on social gatherings
Following indications that the number of people permitted to take part in a social gathering is to be reduced from 30 to six in England, we understand the new regulations will not apply to public worship or individual prayer in church buildings.
We await the full details of any proposed changes to regulations to ascertain whether they could affect places of worship or other venues in other ways and will update the Church of England Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance page accordingly.
The Catholic Herald report New social gathering restrictions ‘will not apply to churches’ states “the policy on places of worship was first announced on Twitter by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said he had been in contact with the government”, following which the Catholic bishops said their guidance remains the same. In an email to the Catholic Herald, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said places of worship can stay open for services and communal prayer “as is currently the case”.
General information is available in the Press Releases:
- PM press conference statement: 9 September 2020 and
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 9 September
and at 5:23 pm, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, tweeted:
However, exact details of the changes as they might affect places of worship will not be known until the legislation and guidance has been published.
The Church of England’s statement was further updated at 18:38 on Wednesday 9 September, and is covered in our post Church of England: Places of worship and new restrictions.