New lockdown rules for places of worship, weddings and funerals

Most religious services have been banned under the new nationwide lockdown

Sarah Young
Thursday 05 November 2020 07:39
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Boris Johnson announces second national lockdown

A four-week lockdown has been imposed across England in a bid to curb the accelerating spread of coronavirus.

Boris Johnson made the announcement during a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday 31 October, where he confirmed that the new measures will be in place from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December.

“Our hope was that by strong local action, strong local leadership, we could get the rates of infection down where the disease was surging”, Mr Johnson said, adding that “the virus has been spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers."

“I’m afraid, from Thursday, the basic message is the same: Stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives,“ he explained.

During his speech, the prime minister confirmed that the new rules will include the closure of much of the hospitality industry, such pubs and restaurants, while schools and universities will remain open.

However, he did not make specific reference to the impact the second lockdown will have on religious services, funerals and weddings.  

So what do the new restrictions mean for places of worship and can funerals and weddings still go ahead? Here’s everything you need to know.

Will places of worship stay open?

Under the new rules, all religious services have been stopped once more. However, private prayer can continue.

The government website states that all places of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues, must close for the duration of lockdown, unless they are being used for a specific set of reasons including funerals, to broadcast acts of worship and individual prayer.

Places of worship can also remain open if they are used for formal childcare or where part of a school, essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks, and other exempted activities such as support groups.

Dame Sarah Mullally, chair of the Church of England's recovery group, said she will "study the detailed regulations when they are published“ and ”seek clarification on how this may affect public worship".

Can weddings go ahead?

Weddings and civil ceremonies are banned under new coronavirus restrictions in England.

On its website, the government states that weddings are not allowed to take place, apart from under “exceptional circumstances”. 

“Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These weddings are limited to six people,” the guidelines read.

The news comes as a blow to thousands of couples who have already postponed their nuptials this year.

Wedding ceremonies with up to 30 guests had been permitted to take place from 4 July, but they were banned again on 31 July after a surge in coronavirus cases were observed.

Despite being reinstated once more in August, the rules changed again in September with the government reducing the number of people who can attend wedding receptions in England to just 15.

If you have had to postpone or cancel your wedding due to the pandemic, you can read more about how to navigate your options here.

Are funerals allowed to take place?

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend.

Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance and anyone working is not included.

Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

In March, the government faced criticism after it updated its coronavirus guidelines to limit the number of people allowed to attend funerals to groups of between five and 10.

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