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Church in Wales
Archbishop of Wales John Davies.jpg
Church in Wales
UK News

'People are still dying': Archbishop of Wales says safety comes first as churches remain closed for private prayer

by Heather Preston

The Archbishop of Wales has voiced concerns that people could become "complacent" to the threat of contracting coronavirus as death toll decreases and lockdown measures ease. He says churches must continue to prioritise the safety of its congregations.

The UK government announced that places of worship would be allowed to open for private prayer in England from Saturday. However, as health is a devolved matter, the Welsh government has decided not to follow suit and has announced that its church buildings will remain closed until further notice.

The Church in Wales says "detailed discussions" are taking place with government ministers over the possible re-opening of churches.

The Archbishop of Wales says there are a lot of factors that need to be considered to prioritise public health but he is optimistic that progress will be made at the First Minister's next announcement on the 18th June. 

Speaking to Premier, the Most Rev John Davies said: "I'm hoping that he will be announcing some changes [on Thursday]. The movement is certainly in the direction of churches being open for private prayer.

"It might have been better if it had been across the board and consistent in terms of time, but we're moving in the same direction pretty quickly."

Archbishop John stressed that once measures have been lifted, individual congregations will still need to consider whether re-opening their buildings is the right decision.

"Permission being given to open doesn't mean to say you have to open, if you haven't got the capacity to supervise it properly, then you shouldn't open," he clarified.

A protocol is being developed by Welsh Government which will inform the Church of Wales guidance on how churches can re-open safely to help support religious leaders once the ban is lifted.

Archbishop John explained that the success of online services and guidelines that have allowed services to be streamed from within churches in Wales has reduced some of the pressure for places of worship to re-open quickly. While he sympathises with those who are eager for churches to open as soon as possible, he says it's important to remember that Covid-19 still poses a threat to human life. 

"My wife has been working as an intensive care nurse and if anybody is any doubt about just how awful this virus is, they should ask her. So it's one thing to say this is what we want but actually, what we're trying to do is protect people from something that is grotesque, and could take their lives.

"As [the number of cases] start to decrease, maybe people could be at risk of becoming a little complacent and think it's not as serious as it is - but people are still dying of this disease, people are still contracting it, it's not as if it's gone away. So we've got to maintain that sense of how serious it is, and how important it is for people to be as careful as they can be."

Listen to the full interview with Premier's Heather Preston here:




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