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Religious Buildings: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

UIN HL5228, tabled on 3 June 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to allow the reopening of churches in the UK following their closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and what, if any, health measures will be put in place to facilitate the reopening of places of worship.

Answered on

17 June 2020

On 11 May, the Government published the document “Our Plan to Rebuild”, which outlined the steps it would be taking to ease the lockdown restrictions.

The Government continues to consider how to allow places of worship to reopen for additional uses in Step 3 of its roadmap, which is expected to be no earlier 4 July, subject to further scientific advice. As part of the steps to ease the restrictions, the Government launched a Places of Worship Taskforce to look at how they can reopen and operate safely. Meetings are being led by the Secretary of State for Communities, or the Faith Minister, and comprise of representatives from the country’s major faiths. The Taskforce is working towards the safe reopening of places of worship as soon as possible. It also addresses the specific issues that places of worship will face as they prepare to reopen safely.

As of Saturday 13 June, places of worship are now permitted to open for individual prayer, in line with social distancing guidelines. We have published (attached) guidance to support places of worship to do this in a way that is safe and in line with social distancing. Communal prayers, worship or devotion will not be possible at this stage. The Government will continue to work with the Taskforce towards the full reopening of places of worship as soon as the scientific advice allows.

Places of worship play an important role in spiritual and mental health for many, and in bringing our communities together, which is why we want them to reopen them as soon as we can. However, no place of worship will be able to reopen for further activities before a final decision by the Government and the accompanying changes to the legal position in the published regulations. Even after we permit places of worship to reopen for further activities, some may choose to reopen in stages or at a slower pace depending on their local circumstances.

The current list of permitted activities that can take place within a place of worship can be found (attached) on gov.uk here, and the associated regulations can be found here. These documents will be updated as and when further changes come into effect.