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Churches: Coronavirus

Church Commissioners written question – answered on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the Commissioners' timetable is for enabling churches to reopen safely for funeral services after the covid-19 lockdown.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church Commissioners do not have responsibility for setting a timetable for the reopening of church buildings for funeral services. Current guidance from the House of Bishops is not to conduct funeral services in church buildings because of widely expressed concerns about parishes having capacity to conduct such funerals safely, including being able to clean churches thoroughly between services to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. This is guidance, not instruction.

We are acutely aware of the anguish of those not able to have or attend a funeral in their parish church in the current circumstances. Where it is requested a priest will be present to conduct a funeral service, either at a crematorium or at the churchyard. The House of Bishops meets regularly to review its guidance which will be updated in line with changing circumstances, and published on the Church of England website.

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