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COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic

By June 16, 2020National News

Updated 16th October

Updated special religious services and gatherings checklist, to incorporate changes in regulations announced by the Prime Minister on 12 October 2020.

Published 12th June

Under the current law places of worship are permitted to open solely for the following purposes: 

  • funerals, in line with restrictions on those who can attend as per Regulation 7(2)(b) 
  • to broadcast an act of worship, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast 
  • 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 
  • for early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006 

This law is enacted through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 

From 13 June 2020 places of worship have been permitted to open for the following additional purpose, depending on the most up to date scientific advice of the risk posed by the virus: 

  • Individual prayer within a place of worship – this is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households. Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not permitted at this time as set out in Regulations. This includes a Minister of Religion or lay person leading devotions or prayer of any sort.  
  • Those in charge of running a place of worship should engage and communicate with worshippers and the wider community to explain what activity is permitted and what is still prohibited. 

For more information go to the Government website (opens in a new tab) 

The Church of England has produced a useful Q&A about individual prayer which might be adapted for other places of individual worship. You can read it as an online pdf here (opens in a new tab) 

Faith Associates has produced guidelines for Mosques and Islamic Centre buildings which can be read here (opens in a new tab) 

The Network of Sikh organisations has published guidance on the re-opening of Gurdwaras which can be read here (opens in a new tab) 

The United Synagogue has produced guidelines on the re-opening of synagogues which can be read here (opens in a new tab)  

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