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Cathedrals across the country prepare for first phase of reopening

by Premier Journalist

Cathedrals across England are preparing to welcome people back through their doors after the government announced that private prayer will be permitted inside churches from 15th June. 

According to the Association of English Cathedrals, Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Exeter, Gloucester, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Christ Church Oxford, Ripon, Salisbury, St Paul's Truro, Wells, Westminster Abbey, and the ruins of Coventry Cathedral are all aiming to reopen on the 15th and have begun drawing up strategies for how to do so safely and in accordance with government guidelines. 

The association noted that most cathedrals will limit the number of people inside at any one time, remove all leaflets, reduce seating and offer hand sanitisers at several dispensing points. The cathedrals will also display "new signage to remind people of the health and safety messages around social distancing, and for some cathedrals, a one-way system to keep people safe." 

Most cathedrals will reduce their opening times as they unfurlough staff and retrain volunteers. Cafes and shops will remain closed, and most of the cathedrals' toilet facilities will be out of action.

With covid-19 restricting regular worship, many of the nation's cathedrals have been coming up with creative ways to offer practical and spiritual support to parishioners. Some examples include prayer walls, online candle-lighting, food and medicine deliveries, pastoral support to their communities via Facebook or telephone, virtual heritage tours and pilgrimage, meditations, daily reflections and daily worship. 

Adrian Dorber, who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals said:

"Out of crisis came opportunity, and we are glad to have been able to serve our communities, our cities and our dioceses in such creative and innovative ways during lockdown as we found new ways of doing church differently, new ways of engaging, and new ways to show that we are here, ever present.

“And while we long to open our doors again and welcome people in, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of everyone - the public, our worshippers, our visitors, staff, and volunteers. 

"There is a lot to be done in establishing what a “new normal” will look like. Different places will have special opportunities and challenges but we’ll be doing our best to witness to God’s love and faithfulness and helping communities come to terms with the loss, disruption and change that the covid-19 crisis has brought.”



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