Churches can re-open for private prayer
Churches in Wales can re-open for private prayer from Monday as the Welsh Government’s eases lockdown restrictions.
Churches which are able to meet strict safety measures can re-open for individuals and household groups to pray. However, all churches will remain closed for services, including weddings, funerals and baptisms.
The Church in Wales has worked with the Welsh Government on safety measures churches will have to implement in order to re-open. These include maintaining a two-metre distance between people and ensuring sufficient hygiene and cleaning protocols. Churches will also have to complete a COVID risk assessment before re-opening.
As a result not all churches will be able to re-open at this time. Precise opening hours for private prayer will vary depending on each church’s capacity to open safely. A significant factor will be the availability of volunteers to monitor social distancing and ensure churches are kept clean.
While welcoming the news that churches can now re-open for private prayer, the Church’s bishops say public safety must be the first consideration.
In a statement, they say, “A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential. What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time.
“Whilst we all look forward to the day that all our churches can open safely, we urge local safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.”
The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, added, “We are grateful for the permission which has been given to open churches for private prayer where it is both safe and practical to do so. This will bring spiritual comfort and support to many people, particularly in these tense and anxious days. While we are still unable to hold services, it is a hopeful sign that we are coming though this pandemic.
“We are very grateful to our clergy and volunteers who will now be working hard to ensure the churches that can open can do so safely by meeting our robust criteria.”
While church buildings remain closed for services, people can continue to join in worship and fellowship online in the many services now being broadcast. Digital church – from live-streamed eucharists on Facebook to prayer meetings on Zoom – is available across Wales. Check out your local church’s social media pages for information or find a service through the Church in Wales website at https://bit.ly/3dEVySx
For the full guidance and safety criteria, see https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/