Scores of Cathedrals across England have chosen to shutter their doors in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 cases. The Association of English Cathedrals says that the decisions to suspend in-person public worship have been taken "to keep people safe and protect the NHS in the face of rapidly rising infection rates across the country".
St Paul’s, Southwark and Chelmsford cathedrals suspended worship following the Mayor of London’s declaration of a Major Incident in the city over the weekend. Other Cathedrals to close are Ely, Rochester, Salisbury, Christ Church Oxford, Lincoln, Lichfield, Truro, Wakefield, Hereford, Derby, Blackburn, Liverpool, Norwich, Birmingham and Peterborough. While the Cathedrals have closed for public worship, they will remain open for private prayer and reflection at limited times and days through the week.
Worship will be available online, and people are encouraged to join in from their own homes.
Bristol, Chester, Coventry, Leicester, Manchester, Winchester, St Edmundsbury, Wells and Southwell will all continue to remain open, with just one or two services of public worship offered each week. This remains under constant review.
The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield and Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, said:
"We have grown increasingly concerned about the rising infection rates in our country and wish to support the stay at home message which is so critical to controlling the virus.
"We are at a unique point in our fight against this pandemic, there is hope in the new vaccines that have become available to us, and we need to tighten our resolve now more than ever to keep each other safe and protect the NHS.
“There will be time again for us to meet, give thanks, to remember, and to grieve, but for now we need to do all we can to protect each other and protect all our front line workers in the NHS, social care and education.
“Cathedrals and churches will be keeping daily patterns of prayer going. They will be at the heart of local initiatives to serve and meet need, including supporting local vaccine clinics.
“And they stand, as they always have done, as silent but permanent signs of God’s presence alongside us."