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Appeal to open churches for Christmas

Covid-19 / Sun 22nd Nov 2020 am30 09:21am

GOVERNMENT ministers are facing a direct appeal from church leaders to reopen places of worship for Christmas services amid claims they are ‘Covid-secure’.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, have been handed a Faith Task Force dossier detailing the efforts made to render places of worship safe.

It comes as Tory MPs are poised to step up pressure for churches to reopen where safety allows.

The church leaders’ report comes with Advent Sunday just a week away and amid fears time is running out to get the go-ahead for the most popular services of the year, including carol services, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and Communion on Christmas Day. The report, prepared by public health advisers to the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, stresses that places of worship have combined national guidelines with their own safety rules according to different religions’ traditions.

The document, entitled Keeping Public Worship Safe For The Future, highlights how safety measures worked successfully in places of worship after they reopened following the first lockdown and before they closed for services again this month.

And it stressed that if churches do reopen this Christmas, congregation numbers will have social distancing restrictions. Churches are currently open for private prayer but all services are online.

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