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UK News

What the new Covid restrictions mean for places of worship in England

by Kelly Valencia

Masks will be compulsory in all places of worship in England from 10th December, according to the Prime Minister´s announcement to move to plan B for Covid restrictions.

In a statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship.”

However, there´s confusion as to whether masks will be required when singing. During yesterday´s press conference, Boris Johnson said masks are required exempt “when is not practical, such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.”

Speaking to Premier, Danny Webster, head of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "We don't know if that means choirs, we don't know if that means performers won't have to wear them...but if you take what he said, exactly as he said it, it sounds like you can wear a mask in church, and you can take it off when you're singing."

"That would seem like the odd way round because there's been a lot of concern that singing is one of the more risky activities. So a lot of churches have required masks when singing if they haven't required them at other times. So we're still waiting to see exactly what's happened," Webster continued. 

Working from home when possible and the introduction of Covid passes is also expected to come into force from 15th December.

It is understood, places of worship will be exempt from requiring Covid passports to people wanting to access churches in England.

In September, the government published a proposal of the Plan B Covid restrictions which clearly stated that events such as “communal worship, wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies), funerals, and commemorative events” would be exempt from mandatory certification, but this has not been confirmed yet.

When asked for clarification on both exemptions on mask-wearing when singing and NHS Covid passes, a spokesperson for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told Premier the Department for Health will be clarifying this later today.

Webster continued: "There's no suggestion that churches will be asked to stop singing, that isn't on the cards. So church carol services, nativity services…they can all go ahead.

“Churches would want to take precautions and take sensible measures. But the question that we are waiting to see is around the masks and around the singing. So I would encourage churches to go ahead with their plans, to be sensible, they might want to put some additional measures in place just to ensure people are comfortable in that environment.”

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