Advice for churches regarding the use of buildings
12 May noon
The Government has published guidance and a FAQs document to provide information on the Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance mainly relates to England. Additional guidance for those in Wales can be found through the following link.
In line with the Government’s 3 steps, it is hoped that by 4th July public places, with places of worship explicitly referenced, will be allowed to re-open in some form. This does not mean things will return to pre-COVID-19 arrangements and in order for premises to be used in any form they will need to meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
It might be difficult for places where social distancing is not possible to re-open fully, this will depend on the size of the space and the level of crowding, and may result in only partial re-opening. Churches should be aware that even if all the criteria are met for re-opening of church buildings from July, this is conditional and part of a phased plan to lift lockdown.
The FAQs note “As with all coronavirus restrictions on places of worship, venues and social distancing, we will look to ease them as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Activities on church premises:
Under the current regulations churches can be used for some essential activities ‘to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency).’
This must be within the context that social distancing measures are maintained.
The Government stated that there is no change to guidance on weddings at this time. However, the Government is working to enable small wedding ceremonies from 1 June.
On funerals, the Government has also stated that: “there is no change to the guidance on attending funerals at present.”