New COVID-19 legislation and guidance to 26 December

This is the latest weekly update covering the legislation and guidance on coronavirus COVID-19, and will include events to 26 December*.

Sunday 20 December to Saturday 26 December

Law and Religion UK

Church of England

Last updated Tuesday 22 December at 16:59

Read updated Government guidance:

Updated FAQs:

  • Can carol singing or carol services take place this Christmas? in the Singing, Carol Services & key Christmas considerations section
  • What is permitted in my tier? in the Singing, Carol Services & key Christmas considerations section
  • Who can attend church as part of a Christmas bubble (25 December) in the Singing, Carol Services & key Christmas considerations section
  • Can weddings and funerals go ahead? in the Life Events section

Last updated Monday 21 December at 16:02

Following the announcement by the Prime Minister on Saturday a new Tier 4 level of restrictions is now in place. The latest Government guidance is here and specific guidance for those in Tier 4 areas is here. We await further updated guidance for Places of Worship and will share it here when available.

New Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable in new Tier 4 areas has been published.

Read a Church of England response to updated coronavirus guidance in response to the Prime Minister’s statement about Christmas arrangements, as updated Sunday 20 December at 12:42].

Updated documents:

Diocese of Oxford

Other churches and faith organizations



[With acknowledgements to Benjamin Lewis for highlighting the NHS Directions] 



Northern Ireland

The latest updates and amendments to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 SR 2020/150 are on the web site of the NI Department of Health , the most recent of which are:




Northern Ireland

Other guidance


Historical Religious Buildings Alliance


Post last updated, Wednesday 24 December 2020 at  16:17. 

*Information on COVID-19 on L&RUK

These updates are published at the start of each week; they are not reissued, but new items are added throughout the week as they become available, providing a “rolling update” of the latest developments during the current week. They are also added to COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance which is  the main source of  information; those items in the weekly updates yet to be added are marked “§“.  The updates for the earlier weeks are here.

Church of England documents

For Church of England documents, the information on the document itself – date and version number – provides the best indication of the date on which it was issued

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Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "New COVID-19 legislation and guidance to 26 December" in Law & Religion UK, 21 December 2020,

3 thoughts on “New COVID-19 legislation and guidance to 26 December

  1. The BBC were incorrect in stating that the new restrictions came into effect ‘from midnight.’ The amending regulations [correct title: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers and Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020 No. 1611] were only made at 6.00 am on Sunday 20 December and came into force at 07.00 am that day.

    Presumably parliamentary counsel were working through the night to produce the 33 pages of new regulations before dawn. (I’m assuming that Boris Johnson did not ensure that there was an ‘oven-ready’ copy prepared earlier in case he had to do a U-turn and announce that, for many in England, Christmas 2020 was ‘cancelled’ after all).

    Accordingly, perhaps those who drafted the regulations can be forgiven the following obvious errors:
    (i) Weddings. Amending regulation 2(13) inserts a new Schedule 3A into the principal regulations: ‘Tier 4 restrictions’. Paras 3 and 4 of the schedule impose restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, subject to exceptions listed in para 6, ‘General exceptions relating to gatherings.’ Exception 9 is ‘Marriages and civil partnerships etc.’ Para 6(11) provides: “Exception 9 is that the gathering meets the conditions in sub-paragraph (12) or (13).” Sub-para (12) sets out certain conditions and then sub-para (13) provides:
    “(13) A gathering meets the conditions in this sub-paragraph if it consists of no more than 6 persons and— … (c) it is not reasonably practicable for the gathering to take place in accordance with sub-paragraph (13)… ”
    Presumably the reference should have been to sub-para (12) and we can look forward to Amendment (No. 2) regulations to correct it.

    (ii) Communal worship. A further exception is “Exception 16 – Communal worship”. Para 6(24) provides:
    (24) Exception 16 is that—
    (a) the gathering is for the purposes of communal worship in a place of worship,
    (b) the person concerned participates in the gathering alone or as a member of a
    qualifying group (see paragraph 7), and
    (c) the gathering organiser takes the required precautions in relation to the gathering. ”
    But para 7 is nothing to do with qualifying groups. Para 7 is concerned with two “exceptions relating only to indoor gatherings and outdoor gatherings in a place which does not satisfy the conditions set out in paragraph 4(4)”, namely visiting a dying person and visiting a person receiving treatment in a hospital or care home etc. ‘Qualifying groups’ are defined in para 9, not 7, with the rather tortuous provision that “A person participates in a gathering as a member of a qualifying group only if the person is a part of a qualifying group and, whilst participating in the gathering, the person does not—
    (a) become a member of any other group of people participating in the gathering
    (whether or not that group is a qualifying group), or
    (b) otherwise mingle with any person who is participating in the gathering but is not a member of the same qualifying group as them.”
    (As our benefice put it when advertising an outdoor carol service, “jingling without mingling”!)
    Another correction required – and there may well be others that I’ve not spotted.

  2. It will be interesting to see whether these errors (and any others that may have been noticed) are corrected in the amending regulations required to extend the Tier 4 area (and change the tiering of other parts of England) prior to the announced coming into force of the changes at 00.01 on 26 December 2020.

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