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WHO issues Covid-19 guidance to churches as Christmas approaches

by Will Maule

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued some official advice to religious communities in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 this Christmas.

As the holidays approach, the WHO said that, across Europe, many are "weighing whether or not to host religious processions, holiday markets and church celebrations". The health authority advised that "in countries experiencing widespread community transmission of the virus, postponing or reducing such gatherings should be seriously considered". 

If services are to go ahead, strict preventative measures should be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, the WHO said.

"Regardless of location, religious services should take place differently this year," the group added in its official guidance. "They should be held outdoors whenever possible or be limited in size and duration, with physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene and mask use, as appropriate." 

As per the latest guidance issued by the Church of England, and in accordance with government guidelines, between 23rd and 27th December, people across England are allowed to form ‘Christmas bubbles' and will be permitted to attend places of worship together. The CofE notes that "rules on wearing of face coverings and restrictions on congregational singing indoors still apply throughout the Christmas period" and that the limit on numbers attending Christmas services is the same as for all other services, that is the "number of people who can safely be in the building whilst maintaining a 2m distance between households".

The CofE notes that mixing with other bubbles is prohibited, and if people are attending who are not in a Christmas bubble they will "continue to need to abide by the rules around distancing from other households". 

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