The Government has confirmed that its social distancing advice to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak applies to religious gatherings.
On Monday, Robin Millar, Conservative MP for Aberconwy asked the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock if he would "offer some guidance to the large number of religious communities; churches, mosques, gurdwaras, on what actually constitutes a large gathering of people?"
He replied: "This is a very important point. We have taken advice on how to respond to the crisis, including from our ethics committee, which includes representatives of the major religious faiths.
"It is true that we include religious groups in our advice about social contact. We have seen from elsewhere in the world how sometimes it is through religious gatherings that the virus can spread so, with the deepest regret and the heaviest of heart, we include faith groups and gatherings of faith within the advice."
Mr Hancock's comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced social distancing measures and steps the nations should take reduce the social interaction between people.
These measures will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible;
- Work from home, where possible.
- Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
The Imperial College Covid-19 response team, which has been advising ministers, said that even with the "social distancing" plans set out by the Government, the health system will be "overwhelmed many times over".