Petition Allow corporate worship and congregational singing at places of worship
The Government should change its guidance on guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic to allow corporate worship and congregational singing at places of worship.
The guidance on permitted activities in places of worship is much stricter than for some other activities, such as sporting events. This is unfair, and limits how people attending places of worship can participate in religious activities.
The Government should review this guidance. We believe corporate worship is essential to what we do as believers.
This response was given on 20 November 2020
Places of worship can remain open for individual prayer but cannot open for communal worship. Congregational singing is not permitted.
Regulations will be reviewed before expiring on 2 December.
The Government recognises the importance of places of worship to many people’s health and wellbeing. They play an important role in spiritual and mental health, as well as bringing our communities together.
We are also very grateful to our faith communities for their efforts in making their places of worship COVID-19 secure for worshippers across the year, including avoiding singing which remains a high-risk activity.
However, the Government could not ignore the fact that the rate of infection was rising across the whole country. We therefore needed to act swiftly to limit everyone’s interaction with others.
In view of the rise in infection rate, the Government made the difficult decision to prohibit communal worship places of worship in England, alongside a broader range of premises where people gather and interact. Regulations were introduced on 5 November and will expire on 2 December, when they will be reviewed.
These restrictions mean that places of worship must not allow communal prayers or other forms of communal worship at this time. Unlike earlier in the year, we have ensured places of worship can remain open for several important activities, including individual prayer, and for leaders to broadcast worship. In addition, funerals are also permitted and can be attended by a maximum of thirty people. The full guidance, including the list of exemptions, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july.
The restrictions that are now in place mean that many premises across communities are closed, to prevent gatherings. These restrictions are in place to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed at this critical time.
Our approach has always been guided by scientific and medical advice. We continue to listen carefully to the views of the scientific community, in particular the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its sub-groups.
We recognise what the sadness that the closure of our places of worship brings. We acknowledge that communal worship plays a key role in bringing communities together, bringing strength and solace to many and this will be taken into account when reviewing the regulations.
The period of the restriction will be difficult, and we do not underestimate the sacrifices that people of faith are being asked to make during these unprecedented times.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
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