On 19 March 2021, John Stevens, National Director of FIEC posted “Coronavirus: Congregational Singing & Weddings – Latest Update For England From Ministry of Housing Local Government And Communities” following receipt of an email from MHCLG. This provides an update from government on singing and weddings, and suggests that there is a likelihood of a change in guidance allowing small singing groups indoors and congregational singing outdoors in church car parks, garden and courtyards after 29 March [i.e. Palm Sunday]; this, however, is subject to formal confirmation.
On the less positive side, the advice on weddings has again changed, and the government position is now that weddings before 29 March should only take place in ‘exceptional circumstances.’ The text of the MHCLG email is reproduced below [emphasis added].
Many communities have asked for increased clarity for allowing singing in line with the Roadmap. Discussions are ongoing across Government and we intend to provide more detail shortly. The current plan is to allow single small groups of singers to perform during an act of worship from Step 1b. At the same time we hope that congregations will be able to take part in singing in the grounds of a place of worship, observing the social distancing rules around attending groups and following the guidance on safer singing. As soon as we have confirmation, we will send through further details.
Across all of the Roundtables there was some confusion around restrictions on weddings, and when the requirement for “exceptional circumstances” to get married is removed. Cabinet Office have now confirmed that there was an error in the publication of the Roadmap and that the “exceptional circumstances” requirement will not be removed until Step 1b (29 March) and remains in place at Step 1a (from 8 March). They have apologised for the confusion and have amended the guidance on the National Lockdown page here.”
Whilst the possible relaxation of restrictions on singing during Holy Week is to be welcomed, by starting on the first day of the working week, important Palm Sunday services would excluded. A similar issue arose In Scotland where the initial proposals indicated a resumption of communal worship on Easter Monday, although this was changed subsequently.