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UK News

Archdeacon of Isle of Wight warns not to take Tier 1 status for granted

by Kelly Valencia

The Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, Peter Leonard, has warned residents not to take being placed in Tier 1 for granted as England ends its second national lockdown and enters a strict tier system. 

Fifty-five million people are currently subject to the two highest categories of restrictions, meaning that when attending church services people cannot interact with others outside their bubble or support group. 

But there are three parts of England that can enjoy a little more freedom. Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight are the only places where residents can meet others indoors within the rule of six. 

The Isle of Wight has the second-lowest rate of total cases in the country. The Venerable Peter Leonard, the Church of England's Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, told Premier they still have to follow very strict rules but he thinks it's easier to follow the rules on the island.

"There's only a population of 140,000 so it's not huge. A large number of them are also more elderly. Some are more likely to perhaps be careful and stay indoors," he said. "I think we've recognised the need to do it and the vast majority of people on the island just knuckled down and got on with it," he added.

But being a church in a Tier 1 area doesn't necessarily mean additional freedoms to celebrate Christmas as churches in all tiers can open for worship. When asked whether being categorised as the lowest tier had impacted their plans, the Archdeacon said it hadn't because "the restrictions still apply".

"The idea of holding a massive carol service is a great idea but it still doesn't feel safe. And it is about not taking being in Tier 1 for granted. We are still having to maintain those restrictions so that numbers of cases don't spike up."

Leader of the Apex Church on the Isle of Wight, Mark Thornett, told Premier the rule of six will make fellowship with congregation members easier: "One or two people will be able to get together with each other, have some meals, catch up. A dear friend in the church has just invited me out to breakfast, which is a wonderful treat!"

Thornett said Christians could pray that the unique aspects of Tier 1 are used to glorify God on the Isle of Wight: "Given the opportunities we do have - to be out and about a bit more and seeing people and being able to greet them - [pray] that we use those opportunities to share the good news, particularly at this time of year."

The Venerable Peter Leonard also encouraged Christians to pray: "I think pray for businesses - the island has a lot of independent businesses and that's been a massive struggle for them. And I think prayer for people's mental health because that's been the thing that's hit hardest for a lot of people" he added. 

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