Public Worship to re-open from 2 December

New regulations come into force on Wednesday 2 December 2020.

Last updated 30 November 2020

Access more recent guidance on our Coronavirus page.

In every tier of coronavirus restriction church buildings will be able to open for public worship and private prayer in England. All necessary assessments of Covid-security should be undertaken, including keeping attendees 2m apart, supplying hand-sanitiser and wearing face masks. Sadly, the serving of refreshments is not possible, and as before, worshippers should leave as safely as possible, avoiding crowding at doors.
Who you can attend with depends upon which tier, and guidance is offered here.
While congregational singing remains prohibited indoors, it is now permitted outdoors, provided singers are socially distanced. Also, all choirs, both professional and amateur, can sing in a service of public worship, or a carol service, provided they are socially-distanced.

Several of our Member Churches are producing regular updates based on the latest guidance, and these can be viewed below:

  • Church of England
  • Methodist Church
  • The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev’d Sarah Mullally, who leads the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said “Advent and Christmas this year will not be the same as previous years but having outdoor congregational singing and indoor carol services with choirs is a reasonable balance and recognises our duty to protect and care for each other.” 
  • Government advice for the Christmas Period can be found here
  • Please note: prior to 2 December, the guidance below should be followed

Church gatherings to be suspended from 5 November

2 November 2020
Subject to the approval of Parliament on Wednesday 4 November, a new national coronavirus lockdown will come into force on Thursday 5 November. Most significantly for churches, this will re-introduce the prohibition on congregations gathering for public worship, as well as the conducting of weddings.
These restrictions will remain in force until the relaxing of this regulation, which at the moment is scheduled for the first week in December. However there is growing uncertainty as to whether this relaxation will be possible, given the scale of the second wave of the virus.
The Government website states (correct as of 2 November):

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.

Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:

  • Funerals
  • To broadcast acts of worship
  • Individual prayer
  • Formal childcare or where part of a school
  • Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
  • Other exempted activities such as some support groups

If any further variations are announced, this web page will be updated.

The Church remains active

As we saw in the first national lockdown in the spring, although church services might be suspended, Christian churches remain active in serving their communities, gathering online to worship, and praying for our world in these challenging times.
There are countless examples of Christians providing practical help and support in their local communities, within covid guidelines – whether it’s hosting online remembrance events to help those who are grieving, coming alongside the local council to support practical initiatives in the community, or gathering together virtually to pray.
At this time we can truly be the Church for everyone, bringing compassion in the form of care and light in dark times, and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ as the one great hope for our world.