The Archbishop of Cardiff has said he is “disappointed” with the decision of the Welsh First Minister to suspend public worship in the country.
New lockdown plans announced by Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, will force all the country’s churches, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops to close for two weeks, beginning on Friday, October 23.
Drakeford said the “time-limited” lockdown will provide “a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time.”
In an October 20 statement, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff said: “I am naturally disappointed at the forthcoming ‘firebreak’ measures which, once again, will see our churches closed for public worship.
“Since their re-opening at the end of the first lockdown, our churches have been places of safety and security as well as tranquillity and peace, so much needed in these turmoil ridden days. They have been exemplary in conforming to Social Distancing measures, Health and Safety requirements and Track and Tracing procedures. We are grateful to the teams of volunteers which have made this possible.”
The Archbishop said he was working with the government to secure limited access to churches for private prayer during the two-week lockdown.
“We continue to dialogue with Welsh Government through the ‘Task and Finish Group’ in the hope that churches may remain open for private prayer at specified times over the next two weeks,” he said.
“Part of that prayer will surely be that the ‘firebreak’ measures will achieve their purpose of reducing the level and speed of infections caused by the coronavirus pandemic and restore the nation to health.”
Earlier this year, after churches in the United Kingdom were completely closed in March, they were allowed to reopen for private prayer in June, prior to their full reopening for public worship in July.
Wales and the Republic of Ireland are the only two nations in Europe to have re-introduced a ban on public worship during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Irish government re-imposed restrictions on public worship in late September, as part of its “Level 3” coronavirus prevention plan, and the full ban on public worship returned on October 7, when the highest “Level 5” lockdown was put into effect.
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