A legal limit on gatherings of more than six people will not apply to places of worship, a government spokesperson has confirmed.
In an email to the Catholic Herald, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said places of worship can stay open for services and communal prayer “as is currently the case”.
“This means they can host more than 6 people in total,” they added.
The confirmation comes after the British government announced new limits on social gatherings on Tuesday night to curb an apparent rise in coronavirus cases. However, they did not mention at the time whether the restrictions applied to places of worship.
Under the new rules, which will be legally enforceable, social gatherings of more than six people will be prohibited in homes, gardens, parks and places such as pubs and restaurants. The government announced a limited number of exemptions, including weddings and funerals, but did not mention places of worship more generally.
The policy on places of worship was first announced on Twitter by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said he had been in contact with the government.
After contact with Government we hear that there is no change to guidance on places of worship. Worship is the work of God – not a social gathering – and gives the strength to love and serve.
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) September 9, 2020
The Catholic bishops later said their guidance remains the same:
For those asking, as it stands our guidance on worship in Catholic Churches remains the same. We keep this up to date and amend if necessary. You can find it all here > https://t.co/IqlYzaahH6
— Catholic Church (@catholicEW) September 9, 2020
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