A Christian MP has told Premier churches in England and Wales should start to re-open as the country begins a phased eased of the restrictions.
Under current government guidelines churches in England and Wales can hold in-person services, however, many places of worship decided to close given the very high infections rates across the UK.
But for Conservative MP for New Forest West, Sir Desmond Swayne, churches should have not closed in the first place:
"I think the church has much to offer by remaining open and praying openly and encouraging people to come back," he said.
"I know, they're holding all sorts of services online. And that is important. But I think that people need to get back into the habit of going to church on a Sunday or indeed on any other day. It's one of the few things that we can actually do as individuals in this process, beyond the volunteering and the vaccination centres and helping our neighbours, actually getting to church and praying in fellowship with other Christians is perhaps the most important thing we can do."
Many churches are now expected to re-open as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a roadmap out of lockdown in England. From the 8th March, pupils in England will be allowed to return to schools and meeting one other person for a coffee or a picnic outdoor will also be permitted.
Speaking to Premier, Danny Webster, Head of Public Policy for the Evangelical Alliance, said churches normally look at the situation in their community to use it as a cue to act but stressed that we won't see all churches opening at once:
"I think we're likely to see some churches say: "Well, , as some of the restrictions are being lifted, we can start meeting again", other churches might look at further down the line and say: "Well, when other areas of society reopen, then it's safe for us to do so. So, I think it will be gradual."
All restrictions will be determined based on four key tests: vaccination rollout, hospital admissions, infections rates and coronavirus variants of concern.