An opinion poll has revealed half of UK adults agree that churches should be allowed to open earlier than July as long as they can maintain social distancing.
Churches are currently not expected to open any earlier than 4th July, as part of the Government's third phase, although Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick hinted on Sunday that they may permit private prayer earlier than that, but no dates were confirmed.
Some have complained that other areas of life have been prioritised when often churches are less busy or bigger than many shops.
In a poll by Savanta ComRes of 2,085 adults for the National Churches Trust, it was found that 49 per cent think churches should open earlier than July as long as they maintain social distancing, with 20 per cent not sure and 32 per cent disagreeing.
Adults in the West Midlands are significantly more likely than most other regions to agree that churches should be allowed to re-open sooner than July, at 61 per cent.
The proposal was unsurprisingly most agreed with by regular church goers (66 per cent) but also supported by 41 per cent of those who never attend church.
When asked what activity should be most important for churches and chapels after the lockdown, the most popular response was to be a place where those who died can be remembered. This was followed by providing a place for quiet reflection or private prayer (44 per cent), holding occasions such as weddings, funerals and baptisms (42 per cent ) and providing community support services such as food banks, youth clubs and activities (39 per cent).
A separate survey by the National Churches Trust to churches only showed that three quarters of them agree that closing of their building has had a negative effect on the community and almost two thirds think their buildings will become more important in the future because of the pandemic.
Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust said: "Many of the UK's churches have been at the forefront of providing help and support during the COVID-19 lockdown. This includes making PPE equipment in church buildings, the delivery of food and medicine to older people and telephone counselling for the isolated and vulnerable.
"Reopening churches as soon as it is safe to do so is important for practical matters as well as for spiritual reasons. Locked churches are vulnerable to break-ins, and lead has been stolen from roofs during the lockdown. Churches continue to need to pay their bills, such as insurance premiums, and their income has been severely impacted by the loss of regular Sunday collections. Parish finances are also being jeopardised as churches can no longer rent out meeting rooms and spaces or hold fundraising events."