The government announced on 5 November a second national lockdown that will last until at least 2 December.
The new guidance
Regarding churches, the new government guidance (applicable for England) states:
Places of Worship do not need to fully close under the restrictions in place, but they may open only for a limited range of activities and events.
For churches who had begun to reopen for physical gatherings, the new restrictions will unfortunately mean a reversion to remote-only worship services, at least until 2 December. Weddings (with the exception of those in the exceptional circumstances of someone not expected to recover from a serious illness), baptisms or other ceremonies which mark significant life cycle moments, or also not permitted.
Certain activities can still go ahead within churches as ‘places of worship’, summarised below:
- individual prayer
- funerals with capacity of 30 attendees
- commemorative events to celebrate deceased person’s life, with limit of 15 attendees
- broadcasting or filming an act of worship
- formal childcare and where place of worship is used as part of a school
- essential voluntary and public services
- support groups – including (but not limited to) new parents, those suffering bereavement, vulnerable young people – with limit of 15 attendees
The FIEC have hosted a Q&A webinar with FIEC National Director John Stevens, looking at the second lockdown restrictions and their implications for churches.
The Evangelical Alliance have published a summary article of the new guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Broadcast before the second lockdown was announced, Affinity held an online conference titled ‘Coronavirus and the Church of Jesus Christ’, which nonetheless provides many useful resources for churches as they grapple with life during such restrictions.
As ever, along with the above resources, we encourage you to keep updated with the latest government guidance which you can find here.
This information has been provided by solicitors working for Edward Connor Solicitors. It is designed for the purpose of knowledge sharing only and does not constitute legal advice.