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Coronavirus: Church of England closes all its buildings in London

Diocese warns churches may have to shut across country if pandemic spreads

Peter Stubley
Sunday 22 March 2020 21:31 GMT
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Curate Philip Stewart delivers his service via live stream and to a small congregation at Saint Simon Zelotes in London before the church closed its doors on Sunday night
Curate Philip Stewart delivers his service via live stream and to a small congregation at Saint Simon Zelotes in London before the church closed its doors on Sunday night (Reuters)

All Church of England buildings in London have shut their doors to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The church said it was taking the measure in the capital to “demonstrate how important physical distancing is in saving lives”.

It comes five days after public worship was suspended across the country and replaced with online services.

In a joint statement, the Bishops of London, Southwark, Chelmsford and Rochester, warned that closures elsewhere may also be necessary in future.

“Sadly, London is ahead of the rest of the country in seeing a steep rise in the number of those falling sick with Covid-19,” they said.

“We have all heard the strong calls from the mayor and the prime minister not to leave home unless it is essential, and not to use public transport unless we have to.

“If our attempts to distance ourselves physically from one another and prevent the spread of infection are not effective, more people will die.

“In light of this, the time has come, in London, not only for us to suspend public worship, but for us to close our church buildings entirely.

“In doing this we demonstrate how important physical distancing is in saving lives.”

One of the churches affected, Holy Trinity in Sloane Square, Chelsea, confirmed it had closed by posting a video on Twitter of its doors closing.

The Church of England said national guidance on the closure of churches and the holding of baptisms, weddings and funerals was under constant review.

At present, the church advises anyone attending such events to follow social distancing guidelines by remaining two metres away from other people.

“Even though our buildings will be closed, the Church continues to be alive and active,” the bishops added in their joint statement.

“Where you can meet virtually for prayer and Bible study, do so. Finally, pray for us, as we do for you, in these difficult days.”

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