Great Britain

Places of worship set to reopen for private prayer in June

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Churches and other places of worship will be able open for private prayer from 15 June, the government has announced.

Downing Street said the measure would allow a return to worship in ”a safe, Covid-secure way that does not risk further transmission.”

However group meetings, weddings and other services will still not be permitted.

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Places of worship will only fully reopen under step three of the government’s plan to lift restrictions – which is not scheduled until at least 4 July.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Ensuring places of worship can open again, beginning with private prayer by individuals has been my priority.

“Their contribution to the common good of our country is clear, as places of solace, comfort, stability and dignity. And the need for them is all the greater as we weather the uncertainties of the pandemic.

“I’m pleased the prime minister has announced that this is expected to happen from June 15. As communities secretary, I have worked with faith leaders and representatives to prepare guidance that ensures this can be done safely.

“People of all faiths have shown enormous patience and forbearance, unable to mark Easter, Passover, Ramadan or Vaisakhi with friends and family in the traditional way.

“As we control the virus, we are now able to move forwards with a limited but important return to houses of worship.”

The Church of England closed all of its buildings on 22 March, meaning funerals could only take place at crematoriums or the graveside.

Last month a government taskforce with faith leaders was launched last month to develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of religious buildings.

“The prime minister recognises how important it is, at this unprecedented time, for people to have the space to reflect and pray, to connect with their faith, and to be able to mourn for their loved ones,” said a No10 spokeswoman.

“The PM is so grateful to people of all faiths and none, who have followed the social distancing guidelines, and in doing so, protected their communities.

“We plan to open up places of worship for individual prayer in a safe, Covid-secure way that does not risk further transmission.”

Downing Street said the change would only be made if the government’s five tests for easing lockdown are met.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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