COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance

This post includes*:

Legislation and guidance

Legislation relating to coronavirus, some of which is listed below, is available at This includes the three principal relevant primary legislative instruments, and links to secondary legislation and legislation originating in the EU containing “coronavirus” in the title. There are links to pages listing the legislation that has been changed by this primary and secondary coronavirus-related legislation. Additionally, this web page also provides links to the guidance on coronavirus in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.



Two key items of primary legislation contain emergency powers relating to coronavirus and health protection in England.

From 29th March 2021 the health protection restrictions in England are as set out in the following regulations:

These regulations set out the three Steps, or stages, for the gradual easing of restrictions, with different severity levels of restriction for each Step. The restrictions for Step 1 can be found in Schedule 1, Step 2 in Schedule 2, and Step 3 in Schedule 3Schedule 4 of the regulations lists the areas of England which are under each Step, and this list will be amended as areas move from one Step to another. The regulations also impose restrictions on travel outside of the United Kingdom.


Two key items of primary legislation contain emergency powers relating to coronavirus and health protection in Wales.

These regulations set out the current restrictions in Wales.

There are three key health protection regulations that apply to everyone in Wales.



Four key items of primary legislation contain emergency powers relating to coronavirus and health protection in Scotland.

These regulations set out the current restrictions in Scotland.

These regulations set out the five local Levels of restriction in Scotland, from Level 0 to Level 4, with different severity levels of restriction for each Level. The Levels apply to areas in Scotland as specified in Schedule 6 of the regulations. As areas are moved in or out of Levels, they will be added or removed from the lists, and the text of Schedule 6 will be amended accordingly.

There are two key health protection regulations that apply to everyone in Scotland.


Northern Ireland

Two key items of primary legislation contain emergency powers relating to coronavirus and health protection in Northern Ireland.

These regulations set out the current restrictions in Northern Ireland.

There are three key health protection regulations that apply to everyone in Northern Ireland.

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Other legislation with impacts on COVID-19

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England – Guidance

Guidance – Wales



Northern Ireland

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  • Case law
  • E (Vaccine) [2021] EWCOP 7 (20 January 2021) Court of Protection held that a woman in her 80s living in care home, who does not have mental capacity to decide, should receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Her son objected on grounds of his scepticism about its efficacy.

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Church of England

Advice and guidance

The Church’s website has produced a number of FAQs which are available at Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches. The FAQs are under the following headings, which are subject to change according to circumstances:

  • FAQs [5]
  • Prayer and worship [8]
  • Life events [3]
  • Community Support [3]
  • Fabric and building access [3]
  • Nurseries and early years provisions [1]
  • Finance and governance [3]
  • Safety, safeguarding and wellbeing [4]

These FAQs do not have unique URLs and some scrolling in therefore necessary. However, there is an internal link to “FAQs” and a “Version log” which lists updates made to the page from Wednesday 27 May at 10:40, with the most recent listed first. 



  • Last updated: Thursday 22 July, 16.35
    • New Q&A added “What is the Church of England’s position on ‘vaccine passports’?”
    • The Press Release issued after the Zoom meeting of the House of Bishops on 26 July 2021 includes the following statement:

    “The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group (now concluded) then updated the House on what is now permissible since 19th of July and confirmed that she and her colleagues will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation carefully as it continues to evolve.”

  • Updated Monday May 17, 16:36

“The changes in guidance which come into effect today represent a relatively modest step along the road of easing restrictions affecting places of worship in common with many other public places”. With regard to singing, this revised guidance for the “eased restrictions” of Step 3 is more restrictive than that for Step 2.


Further reading

The below Marking our communities resources have been prepared by The Liturgical Commission:

Association of English Cathedrals (AEC) 

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Other churches and faith organizations

This section is being populated with advice and guidance from churches other than the Church of England.


Church of Scotland

There is a wide range of advice from the Church of Scotland:

Scottish Episcopal Church

  • Bishops’ statement on re-opening of churches, “We cannot accept that this Sunday, those who can reach a church building are worshipping while those still unable to mix with others, but who join them online, are not worshipping…We disagree with the claim made during Judicial Review that these commitments do not represent worship“. (26 March 2021).

Churches in Wales

Northern Ireland

Roman Catholic EW

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Celebration of Holy Week 2021. Note to Bishops and Episcopal Conferences on the Celebration of Holy Week 2021, (Prot. N. 96/21.), (19 February 2021).

Methodist Church

On 30 September, 2020, the Methodist Church issued an update of its Coronavirus Guidance for Property. Other guidance includes:

Baptist Church

Other churches

Muslim Council of Britain

Food Standards Agency

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (Ireland)

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Other advice and guidance

Joint Committee on Human Rights

Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC)

Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dublin

Royal School of Church Music

Historical Religious Buildings Alliance

Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD)


  • Coronavirus (COVID-19), Standing Guidance: Guidance for E, W, S, NI, RoI. The guidance for ringing for children’s groups has been updated in the light of the introduction of the new Tier 4. In England, the Government guidance that allows the running of activities for children in out-of-school settings specifically excludes Tier 4, so young ringers groups can only operate in Tiers 1-3. Updated 27 December 2020.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates, as at 26 February 2021). “While there is still detail to be studied, and every chance of change, all indications are that ringing in England at least will come out of lockdown as follows…”
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19), Updates: There is no change in guidance this week (26 March). Easter Sunday ringing guidance is as published on 19 March, and the general roadmap is as per the 12 March update
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – CCCBR. Update, 5 April. Detailed guidance is available in Guidance Notes section; and  also indicator on remainder of the roadmap timeline.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – CCCBR. Update, 21 April. Summary of implications of England road map vis-à-vis bellringing.
  • Wales Guidance: moving to Alert Level 3 from 3 May onwards. This guidance was developed from the England guidance and agreed with the Church in Wales;  as with the CCCBR guidance for England published last week, this  should be read in conjunction with the recently update guidance note about individual risks
  • 22nd May: There has been no change to guidance this week. England is in Stage 3 with the Rule of Six applying indoors. Guidance suggests a limit of 45 minutes subject to 1m+ social distancing rules, hand sanitising, face coverings, lateral flow tests in certain circumstances, and good ventilation. Detailed guidance Guidance 17 May to 21 June
  • Simon Linford, Central Council of Church Bell Ringers: Summary Ringing Guidance (England).
  • Summary ringing guidance (England). Useful template. “Place of Worship Guidance Pending”.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – CCCBR. Last update, 20 July 2021.



Charity Commission

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector: Guidance to help with running your charity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As remaining legal restrictions are gradually eased in England and Wales, the Commission assures charities that during this period it will continue to act proportionately in the public interest, whilst helping trustees to think about the wider or longer impact of their decisions on their charity. (3 August 2021). Guidance to be reviewed 30 September 2021.

Bar Council

British Medical Journal

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List of the posts on L&RUK



June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

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February 2021

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January 2021

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December 2020

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November 2020

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October 2020

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September 2020

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August 2020

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July 2020

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June 2020

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May 2020

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April 2020

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March 2020

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February 2020

  • Coronavirus: contingency planning and legislation. Diocese of London Guidance note in the event of Pandemic Virus; “Much of the current advice from the Church of England is based upon the premise that there is no immediate risk or need for action, but suggests that it is as well to be prepared for what might happen”.(29 February 2020).
  • Law and religion round-up – 23rd February. Legal status of national and diocesan requirements. The advice falls within the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop, and the exact details vary between dioceses. Those in the Peterborough Ad Clerum are amongst the most comprehensive and most prescriptive, but nevertheless contain a mix of mandatory and permissive language. “The Church of England advice was last updated on 20 February”. (23 February 2020).
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – latest news. “Still nothing much to do with law – or at least, only marginally so – but…”, Hmm. (14 February 2020).
  • Diocese of London advice on coronavirus – updated. Diocese of London Guidance note in the event of Pandemic Virus from the  Archdeacon of London, principally about the risks of infection arising from the administration of Holy Communion. (1  February 2020).

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L&RUK Updates

See also L&RUK weekly round-ups in list of the posts, supra. In view of the reduction in the amount of legislation and guidance by August 2021, from September these updated are issued on a monthly basis. New material is added to COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance as before. 


Monthly updates

Weekly updates

  • 15 August to 21 August: Minor changes to legislation and guidance.
  • 8 August to 14 August: Travel restrictions and changes to self-isolation.
  • 1 August to 7 August: Church in Wales update for Alert Level Zero; Masks in Scotland from 9 August.
  • 25 July to 31 July: CofE Q&A added “What is the Church of England’s position on ‘vaccine passports’?”; CofE Recovery Group formally concluded.
  • 18 July to 24 July: New legislation and guidance for Step 4 in England.
  • 11 July to 17 July. Legislation and guidance in anticipation of Step 4 (England).
  • 4 July to 10 July: Anticipated changes for Step 4 (England).
  • 27 June to 3 July. Weddings, travel arrangements; admission to faith schools.
  • 20 June to 26 June.  Amendments to travel regulations, (England); revised regulation for person responsible for “regulated premises”, (Wales); variations on social distancing, (Scotland); Guidance for outdoor weddings in England.
  • 13 June to 20 June. New legislation and guidance for changes to Step 3 in England, relaxation of singing provisions in Wales (though with some strange aspects).
  • 7 June to 12 June. Includes government response to e-petition.
  • 30 May to 6 June. Updates from Association of British Choral Directors  and CCCBR.
  • 23 May to 29 May. Various guidance on Step 3 in England
  • 16 May to 22 May. Various guidance on Step 3 in England.
  • 9 May to 15 May. Various guidance on further easing of COVID restrictions confirmed for 17 May.
  • 2 May to 8 May. Press Notice on relaxation of numbers in funerals in England.
  • 25 April to 1 May. Relaxation of restrictions in Wales, RSCM update on singing.
  • 18 April to 24 April. Changes to NI legislation, CofE guidance on APCMs.
  • 11 April to 17 April. On going, including England move to “Step 2” are; COVID-19 advice for Ramadan.
  • 4 April to 10 April. COVID-19 arrangements and funeral of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  • 28 March to 3 April. Updated guidance from CofE and CinW.
  • 21 March to 27 March. Guidance for Holy Week and Easter.
  • 14 March to 20 March. Weddings in England: “Step 2” relaxation of lockdown, Statement by UK Weddings Taskforce; places of worship and the latest Welsh Regulations; Guidance for Ramadan; extension of regulations in Wales and Scotland.
  • 7 March to 13 March, Easing the lockdown in Scotland Easing the lockdown in England; Marriage law: forthcoming events; Book launch.
  • 28 February to Saturday 6 March. And in Quires and Places where they sing (or not)….
  • 21 February to 27 February. COVID-19: easing the lockdown in England & Scotland Reopening churches in Scotland; Review of coronavirus legislation; The EU Council, COVID-19 and human rights; An illegal religious gathering in Nottingham?
  • 14 February to 20 February. COVID-19 and closure of churches in Scotland, Noli me tangere.
  • 7 February to 13 February. St Valentine and COVID-19; Closure of churches in Scotland
  • 31 January to 6 February 2021. Changes to NI legislation.
  • 24 January to 30 January. COVID-19 legislation; Closure of churches in Scotland – déjà-vu.
  • 17 January to 23 January. Closing places of worship in Scotland; Opening places of worship in Scotland; Church of England services in Lent, Holy Week and Easter: 2021; Guernsey in lockdown; General Synod Meetings 2021, House of Bishops Meeting.
  • 10 January to 16 January. Safe use of places of worship; Church of England – updated guidance on COVID-19.
  • 3 January to 9 January. Suspending public worship: – England; – Northern Ireland; and – Scotland. Continuing Public Worship – Wales.


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* Material from the earlier Coronavirus updates – index was transferred to this post on 20 August 2020 at 18:04, to which further updates continues to be added. On 2-3 April 2021, COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance was revised and reordered; the version, as at Friday 2 April at 17:51, archived on 5 April 2021 at 09:39 is available here. The latest additions are added at the end of each group of items, with the exception of those from the Church of England, which reflect the order of the guidance documents on the Church’s web pages.

Post last updated, 8 September 2021 at 10:47.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance" in Law & Religion UK, 16 September 2020,

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