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UK News

More than half of Church of England's parishes close for Sunday services amid Covid crisis

The Church of England has said more than half of its 14,000 parishes have closed for communal Sunday worship.

Speaking to the BBC, the Church said some of its clergy are shielding, and all parishes are making their own decisions, with a number of churches deciding it's not safe enough to admit worshippers. Many parishes have moved their worship online. 

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 said 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".

Canterbury Cathedral made the decision to close earlier this week. 

St Paul’s, Southwark and Chelmsford cathedrals suspended worship following the Mayor of London’s declaration of a Major Incident in the city. 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. 

Under the current lockdown, churches are permitted to stay open by the government for Covid-secure worship services, although congregants are not allowed to mix with those outside of their household or support bubble.

Earlier this month, Premier revealed that church leaders across England had received letters from local councils and public health bodies encouraging them to move their services online.

The requests asked for a "voluntary" closure of buildings amid high levels of coronavirus infections. 

Churches in Ealing, Lancashire, Bath, and Essex were among those who’ve received the letters.

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