Clarification over places of worship staying open

A number of people have asked me during the past week to clarify the situation regarding the churches and opening during the current lockdown.  The decision taken between the eight churchwardens and myself, after the Prime Minister made his announcement last week, was to keep all four churches open for private prayer, but hold actual services only in St Mary’s due to the space and height provided by the building.  This seems to accord precisely with the C of E guidance, which as of Thursday 14th January is:

The advice below is provided to assist local churches in their planning and decision-making during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has asked us to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS. Under the current regulations the Government has permitted public worship to continue, if it is safe to do so.

While many churches have decided to offer digital services only for the time being, others are continuing to remain open, in a Covid-secure way, for individual prayer and public worship. The circumstances in each place will inform a local decision.

We urge everyone to be exceptionally cautious and, in particular, to do everything possible to prevent mingling outside of households and support bubbles.

We acknowledge and share the sadness many are feeling at not being able to meet together as we would usually do at the moment and prayerfully and confidently look forward to better times ahead.

Until further instructed, we have received this advice and adhered to it, in closing down most of the services, standing down the choir at St Mary’s and tightening our procedures.  I believe that we have made the right decisions, and hope that we can both provide a safe environment for those who wish to meet for worship and spiritual support during this period, whilst being deeply conscious of the anxiety and real threat caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

John Mann