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UK News

Churches in Scotland to reopen for communal worship on 15th July

by Tola Mbakwe

Places of worship in Scotland have been given the go ahead to open next Wednesday. 

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ongoing decline of Covid-19 means the country can move into phase three of its four-step plan to exit lockdown.

Places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation on 15th July but with restrictions on numbers, singing and chanting. The contact details of those in attendance will have to be collected.

Scotland's Catholic Bishops have welcomed the First Minister's announcement. Commenting on the move, the President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert said; "To have been unable to attend Mass for many months has been a source of real sadness for Scotland's Catholics and I am sure there will be great joy at the prospect of returning.

"Thanks to the widespread implementation of the church's infection control protocols, Catholic parishes will begin the resumption of public Masses and other communal activities from 15th July.

"The bishops are extremely grateful to all those who have worked tirelessly to prepare our parishes for public worship and to those who made their views known to their parliamentary representatives and the government on the subject of communal worship.

"While thanking the Scottish Government for listening to these calls, we would remind parishioners that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended and ask those who return to do so in accordance with the infection control measures in force in each parish, mindful always of the need to protect themselves and others."

Restrictions at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased on 15th July, though wakes and receptions must follow limits on household gatherings and hospitality.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am well aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance at funerals in these last few months have been particularly hard to bear and I am grateful to everyone who has complied, in what I know will have been heart-breaking circumstances."

From 22nd July, beauticians and nail salons can reopen and universities and colleges can implement a "phased return to on-campus learning".

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