Churches in Wales can reopen for public worship from next weekend as the Welsh Government eases lockdown restrictions.
Those able to meet the strict safety regulations can reopen for services from Sunday 19th July, including for baptisms and Holy Communion, for the first time since lockdown. Church halls can also reopen from 20th July.
Churches are already allowed to open for private prayer, weddings and funerals.
The Church in Wales has worked with the Welsh Government on safety measures. These include maintaining a two-metre distance between people and ensuring sufficient hygiene and cleaning protocols. Churches also have to complete a Covid-19 risk assessment before re-opening.
Not all churches will be able to reopen for either public worship or private prayer. For some it will depend on the availability of volunteers to monitor social distancing and ensure churches are kept clean.
While welcoming the news, the Church in Wales' bishops say safety must be the first consideration.
"A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential," they said in a joint statement.
"What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time.
"Whilst we rejoice that we can now return to worship in our churches, we urge local churches not to rush reopening. Only consider reopening if you can do so effectively and safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors."
Most Rev John Davies, Archbishop of Wales, added: "This is welcome and long-awaited good news and a sign that we are on our way to recovering from the pandemic as lockdown is easing. But we cannot be complacent or reckless. We must proceed with caution and care and worship will be different from that to which we have been accustomed in the past.
"I want to thank those who will be making preparations for their building to be open - it will involve quite a lot of work and paying attention to some very technical guidelines. But thank-you for making the effort - what you are doing will be hugely appreciated by those who until now have not been able to participate in worship with others."