Apologies to everyone (or, at any rate, to those of you whose browser lets you read this) for a week of utterly lousy service – it seems to be a problem at our ISP…
QR codes for “NHS Test and Trace”
From 24 September, venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry, close contact services and local authority facilities must, inter alia, display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers and visitors can check in using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. The relevant legislation is The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Collection of Contact Details etc and Related Requirements) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1005.
In this context, the “QR Code” within the legislation “means a dynamic quick response (QR) code developed by, or on the behalf of, and issued by, the Secretary of State” and may be obtained from https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster. On Wednesday 23 September, the Church of England issued new guidance COVID-19 NHS Test & Trace Data, v4 which is summarized on our post QR codes for “Test and Trace” in churches.
Virtual sittings of C of E General Synod
At a special session on Thursday with reduced numbers and social distancing, the General Synod of the Church of England approved the General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure which, as its name suggests, would amend Synod’s standing orders to allow remote meetings. The Measure was taken through all its Synod legislative stages in a day. Once agreed by both Houses of Parliament it will come into force on Royal Assent. Earlier this year, the annual residential meeting of Synod in York had to be cancelled because of restrictions on gatherings, although there was an informal virtual session on Saturday 11 July 2020.
Charity registration: Sero sed serio?
On Tuesday, the Charity Commission published Charity registration decision: The Theosophical Society in England – in which it concluded that “the organisation was established for promoting moral or ethical improvement and the advancement of education for the benefit of the public and could be registered”. Which is extremely helpful to those of us who are interested in applications for registration by what might loosely be described as “new religious movements” – but the decision just published was made on 20 June 2016.
Still, mustn’t grumble.
Is the call to prayer a nuisance?
The Higher Administrative Court [Oberverwaltungsgericht] in Münster ruled on Wednesday that a mosque in Oer-Erkenschwick was permitted to broadcast its Friday call to prayer. The town council had given the mosque permission to broadcast the call to prayer over a loudspeaker with regulated volume for a maximum of 15 minutes on Fridays between noon and 2 pm, but a Christian couple living near the mosque had successfully challenged that permission in the lower court, on the grounds that the council had exercised its discretion improperly (Wednesbury unreasonableness?). The town council appealed
Finding in favour of the council, the 8th Senate of the Court said that the claimants’ rights had not been violated by the exemption from the noise regulations. The muezzin’s call to prayer did not constitute a legally-significant nuisance, and the noise guide values for residential areas under the Technical Instructions for Protection against Noise would be not be breached at the claimants’ house. Though the call to prayer could be heard when the loudspeaker was operated in accordance with the approval, that did not represent an unreasonable burden on the claimants. Crucially, the negative freedom of religion on which the claimants relied did not confer any right to be spared other expressions of faith. Rather, it protected individuals from having to participate in religious exercises against their will, and simply hearing a religious statement once a week at a low volume did not engage it. In short, said the President of the Court, “Every society must accept that one will sometimes be aware that others exercise their faith”. [With thanks to Law and Religion Headlines.]
- Nadine Batchelor-Hunt, EachOther: Why Coronavirus curbs on our liberty need better scrutiny.
- Emmet Coldrick, UK Human Rights Blog: Were the March 2020 lockdown restrictions lawfully imposed? (Part 1) and Were the March 2020 lockdown restrictions lawfully imposed? (Part 2): he concludes that the Regulations were made ultra vires.
- House of Commons Library: Briefing Paper, Humanist marriage ceremonies, 24 September 2020.
- Gabriel Kanter-Webber, Gabrielquotes: Masechet Minglin: on the halacha of gathering in groups of more than six.
- Joshua Rozenberg, A lawyer writes: Mixed Millers from the attorney general: oh dear.