The Archbishop of Canterbury has confirmed that churches in England will not be affected by the government's decision to restrict social gatherings to a maximum of six people amid a steep rise in Covid-19 cases.
The latest changes, which were announced by the government late last night, will see a blanket ban on groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors. Those who fail to comply with the new rules can face a £100 fine, with the penalty doubling upon each recorded offence up to a maximum of £3,200. The new rules will come in to force on 14th September, but will not affect worship gatherings, as confirmed by Justin Welby this morning on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told Premier: "We can confirm that places of worship can stay open for services and communal prayer as is currently the case. This means they can host more than 6 people in total."
Exemptions will also apply to schools, workplaces, funerals, organised team sports and Covid-secure weddings.
Currently, the guidance stipulates that two households of any size are permitted to meet indoors or outdoors, and up to six people from different households outdoors. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to provide further details on the changes at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
"One of the pieces of feedback we had including from the police was that we needed the rules to be super simple so that everybody knows what they are," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. "And now this will now be rigorously enforced by the police."
Previously, the police were unable to take action unless social gatherings exceeded 30 people.