Religious Buildings: Coronavirus

Church Commissioners written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Government on allowing places of worship to remain open during lockdown if they continue to implement additional covid-secure measures.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Following the Government announcement of a second lockdown, churches have been required to close again for public worship, between 5th November and 2nd December. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishop of London and senior Christian and other faith leaders wrote to the Prime Minister about this and their letter can be read here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/Faith%20communities%20letter%20to%20Prime%20MInister%20%28ii%29.pdf.

In it they concluded: “We have already said there is no scientific rationale for suspension of Public Worship where it is compliant with the guidance that we have worked jointly with government to establish. We believe government, and Public Health England, accept this. Government is making decisions about what aspects of our life during this period of restrictions are essential. We believe we have demonstrated that continuation of public worship is essential, for all the reasons we have set out above. We call on government to recognise and support this, and enable us to continue to worship safely, as part of the essential fabric of the nation.”

The Church of England remains in dialogue with the Government about this as part of the Government’s Places of Worship Task Force. I commend the work of clergy and volunteers across the country during this very challenging time.

Church buildings may remain open for individual prayer where it has been possible to make them COVID-secure. The Church has continued to encourage clergy to broadcast services and make resources available online where possible. Guidance and advice from Public Health England and the Church of England is being distributed to clergy and is published on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches.

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