Places of worship will be allowed to open for private individual prayer under government plans to be announced next week. The UK government said Sunday it will reopen places of worship for individual prayer on June 15 as it reportedly looks to speed up easing measures in order to save jobs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said services and worship groups will still be banned for the time being due to concern that the new coronavirus spreads more quickly in enclosed spaces. These are not expected to include weddings of any size, or full services – which will come at a later date.
Places of worship reopening
The prime minister is set to outline measures which will come into effect in England on 15 June.
Northern Ireland has already allowed private worship but Scotland and Wales have not yet done so.
Just a (almost daily) reminder that when the UK government speak about anything to do with the coronavirus, including about places of worship, it speaks only about England.
— Parch Ddr Kevin Ellis (@ParchKevin) June 7, 2020
Places of worship come under step three of the government’s roadmap to lift restrictions, and are not due to fully reopen until at least 4 July.
Worshippers told ministers they felt “disappointment and hurt” at not being able to visit places of worship despite some shops being reopened.
Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, words.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Ensuring places of worship can open again, beginning with private prayer by individuals has been my priority.
“Their contribution to the common good of our country is clear, as places of solace, comfort, stability and dignity. And the need for them is all the greater as we weather the uncertainties of the pandemic.
“I’m pleased the prime minister has announced that this is expected to happen from June 15. As communities secretary, I have worked with faith leaders and representatives to prepare guidance that ensures this can be done safely.”
Mr Jenrick added: “People of all faiths have shown enormous patience and forbearance, unable to mark Easter, Passover, Ramadan or Vaisakhi with friends and family in the traditional way.
— Richard Graham (@RichardGrahamUK) June 6, 2020
“As we control the virus, we are now able to move forwards with a limited but important return to houses of worship.”
The Church of England closed all of its buildings on 24 March, meaning funerals could only take place at crematoriums or the graveside.
Clergy were encouraged to live-stream worship from their own homes.
The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, welcomed the announcement that church buildings will soon be able to reopen.
“This is the start of the journey for church buildings to open up safely in line with government advice, and we look forward to their detailed guidance on enabling this first step to happen,” she said.