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man and woman couple civil partnership Image by Scott Webb from Pixabay.jpg
man and woman couple civil partnership Image by Scott Webb from Pixabay.jpg
UK News

Christian launches petition to allow couples not cohabiting to stop social distancing

by Cara Bentley

A petition has been started to allow couples who do not live together to be within one metre of one another. 

For couples who both live separately in shared households or with family, social distancing has been required for the last five months even when they do meet up inside. Couples living separately in Scotland are allowed to meet as normal but not in England. 

Current government guidance says social distancing can only be abandoned if people are in the same support bubble - for which at least one of the couple has to live alone.

A petition of almost identical wording was rejected recently, with the Government saying current laws already covered the change, given that couples can already visit and stay the night at each other's houses. 

The Government said in response: "You could start a petition calling on the Government to update its advice on social distancing for partners from different households, if that is what you want to happen" despite the petition being called "Allow non-cohabiting couples in England to stop distancing."

The new petition with the clarified aim was started by Christian Daniel Timms, who told Premier: "At a time of emotional stress and difficulty, this is having a detrimental emotional and psychological impact on a lot of Christian couples. At the same time, a commitment to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) means that disobeying this guidance by having physical contact with one another runs contrary to conscience. But we know that God has created us as physical beings, and scientific research confirms the importance of touch for health and wellbeing."

In March, the deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries was asked about couples who live apart and said they should either stay separate or "test the strength of their relationship" and move into the same house. 

Many Christian couples chose not to do that because they didn't believe it is right to do so before marriage. 

Timms said Christians have "felt the absence of touch very keenly - it's hard to show affection without any physical contact, difficult to comfort if one of us is suffering, to celebrate an achievement, or to have meaningful reconciliation after a disagreement. Often situations are just left unresolved in quite an uncomfortable way - and physical distance tends to imply coldness even when this is not meant. 

"Hearing about how Jesus reached out and touched the leper seems to underscore the importance of touch for conveying love and concern."

The petition argues that living together is not possible for many couples, for practical, financial or moral reasons.

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