The Church of England has responded to the government's phased plan to reopen society and the official guidance which notes that churches could reopen across the board from July. Though there was no clear detail given on the timeline for permitting in-person church services during the Prime Minister's Sunday address, on Monday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted that 4th July was the date for people of faith to look forward to.
He told the BBC: "Starting from July 4 at the very earliest, those are the sectors where - they are just inherently more difficult because people are mixing together and it's difficult to maintain the social distancing - we wouldn't be able to say, based on the advice we get, and the monitoring we do, that we would start them at least until July 4."
In response, Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London said:
"We note from the Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy that churches could be open from July as part of the conditional and phased plan to begin lifting the lockdown. We look forward to the time when we are able to gather again in our church buildings.
"We are examining what steps we will need to take to do so safely and are actively planning ahead in preparation. We strongly support the Government's approach of continuing to suppress the transmission of the virus and accordingly, we recognise that at this time public worship cannot return in the interests of public health and safety."
The UK now has the third-highest number of covid-19 cases in the world, at 223,000. Spain has 268,000, while the United States is by far the worst-affected nation, with over 1.3 million confirmed infections and a staggering 80,000 deaths.