We want to keep you up-to-date with information and updates about Coronavirus (COVID-19) so that you can take appropriate action within your churches.
For the latest government and NHS advice you can use the following links:
You should also note the Coronavirus Bill includes information that may be helpful about funeral services. Schedule 27 of the Bill relates to the management of deaths and sets out the powers available to local government to take control of local death management systems where essential for the protection of public health and the dignity of the deceased. Throughout, the government will ensure that local authorities and other public bodies have due regard to people’s religion or belief, and has sought to make this explicit through an amendment to the face of the Bill. Only as a last resort would other more stringent measures be considered.
Coronavirus Update Monday 17th May 2021
From today we move to Step 3 of the government lockdown easing. The main changes for our churches are as follows:
- Funerals will have no legal cap on the number of people who can attend. The number of attendees will be determined by how many people the church can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.
- Limits at weddings, wedding receptions, wakes, baptisms and other commemorative events will be increased to 30 people.
- Outdoors most legal restrictions on meeting others will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal unless otherwise exempt.
- Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits will increase to 30 people (not including under 5s).
However, please remember that COVID Secure rules, including social distancing requirements, continue to apply in the workplace, and in businesses and public venues (which includes our churches).
At this point in time, restrictions on singing have not changed and wearing of face masks is still required by law (except for people with valid exemptions.
For full details of what is now allowed, please see the government guidance for the safe use of places of worship.
Coronavirus Update Monday 12th April 2021
Today saw the UK moving to the next step in the easing of Coronavirus restrictions. The main points of today’s easing which may impact our churches are as follows:
Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees.
Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
Coronavirus Update Tuesday 30th March 2021
On 26th March, the government updated the guidance for the safe use of places of worship. As part of this guidance, which reflects changes to restrictions as a result of moving to the next step of the government’s roadmap on 29th March, congregational singing will be permitted outdoors, as long as it takes place within the grounds or outdoor space of the place of worship, and places of worship follow social distancing and gathering rules, which limit those gathering to up to 6 people or two households.
We know many of you have been looking forward to this change, and as we enter this time of festivals, we hope that this will allow some of you to begin to celebrate in a more normal manner.
To find out more about this change, and advice on how to keep your congregation safe while singing, please visit the government’s guidance page. Please also note that the section in the guidance on “Singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments” suggests that you should also refer to the guidance for Performing Arts for additional compliance information.
Coronavirus Update Monday 1st March 2021
COVID-19: The path out of lockdown in England
On 22 February, the Prime Minister made a statement to the Commons and appeared subsequently at a press conference to outline the Government’s plans for a staged easing of the lockdown in England. In brief, according to the subsequent press release, there are several key dates when further easing will take place: 8 March, 29th March, 12th April, 17th May and 21st June.
The full accompanying document, COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021, made it clear, however, that easing the lockdown was conditional upon a number of factors and that, before proceeding to the next step, the Government would examine the data to assess the impact of the previous one, based on four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.’
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
The likely impact on places of worship, due to the progression through each stage appears to be like this:
- Worship in church buildings continues unchanged with all current measures in place for face coverings and social distancing until the end of restrictions.
- Weddings may currently only take place in an emergency. The expectation is that from 8th March, six people will be able to attend a wedding and it will not need to be an emergency; from 12th April, fifteen people will be able to attend a wedding and a reception afterwards; from 17th May that figure will increase to thirty; and (at least in principle), from 21st June all attendance restrictions will be lifted. There is currently no change in the requirement for those attending a wedding to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing.
- Funeral attendance will continue to be limited to thirty, maintaining all current restrictions for face coverings and social distancing rules until the end of restrictions.
Following the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament, the Bishop of London, who chairs the Church of England’s Coronavirus Recovery Group, commented that the Church would study the details of the statement and, ‘working with Government Departments, refine our own advice for local churches in the weeks ahead. We all look forward to being able to meet in larger groups again later this year and today’s announcement will be especially encouraging for couples planning weddings, among others’.
[Source: 10 Downing Street, 22 February]