COVID-19 New Guidelines: See How Your Church will be Affected

For the government, churches play an important role for community but are also vulnerable places to the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to the new guidelines, churches are not expected to fully close due to the restrictions imposed by the new lockdown. However, there is a very limited range of activities and events they are allowed to open for. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government emphasise that this is only a guideline and in case there is any conflict with the associated law, the law must prevail.

To know more: The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations2020

This guidance is applicable only in England and is under continuous revision by the government Places of Worship Taskforce, who has been working alongside faith leaders to review and make any amendment as they find necessary and to enable churches and other worship places to reopen safely as soon as possible. 

If you are a church leader, know how your church may be affected by the new guidelines.

How churches will be affected by the new rules starting today, 5 November

Except for specific purposes, churches in England are expected to

  1. require regular attendees to stay at home
  2. prevent people from gathering with those they do not live with
  3. close certain business and venues

To know more: See the guidance on the New National Restrictions from 5 November

Which activities churches are NOT allowed to open to

  • Communal devotions, worship, service or prayer led by a Minister of Religion or lay person
  • Weddings (except of someone not expected to recover from a serious illness)
  • Baptism or other ceremonies which mark significant life cycle moments
  • Study groups
  • Lifestyle and leisure/recreational groups such as craft groups or exercise groups
  • Food served to be consumed on the premises
  • Amateur choir practice or group bell ring
  • Tourism and shops contained within the place of worship

Which activities churches are allowed to open to

Individual Prayer

A person entering the venue to pray alone and not as part of a group. An individual prayer can not be allowed to attend a led prayer or led service. Public worship must not take place.

The number of individual prayer in a place of worship will depend  on the size of the building and ability to maintain a social distancing between them.

Precautions to stop people arriving at the same time must be in place despite the size of the building.


Funerals are limited to 30 attendants.

Those working during funeral are not included as part of the 30 person limit.

To know more: Guidance for arranging or attending s funeral during the coronavirus pandemic

Commemorative event to celebrate the life of a person who has died

Any service held to celebrate or mark the deceased's passing must have no more than 15 people, not included those working during the ceremony.

This does not include regular communal worship services even when prayers are said for the deceased.

Broadcasting or filming a service / worship

Places of worship are allowed to be used for broadcasting of filming services, provided only those working or volunteering and who are essential for the content of the service will attend. This includes musicians, singers and the technical support necessary to enable people to watch and worship online or via television or radio.

The number of people involved should be kept as small as possible in order to minimise risk of contamination. Furthermore, all participants should follow social distancing guidance.

Childcare and education

This is only where place of worship is used as part of a school. The same way, numbers must be kept to a minimum of people with social distancing in the venue in line with COVID-19 secure guidance.

Essential voluntary and public services

These include venues acting as a food bank or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or a support during emergency.

To know more: COVID-19 guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations

Support groups

During lockdown places of worship can still be used by business, charities or a public body to offer support for the most vulnerable providing mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support limited to 15 attendees.

These support include:

a) victims of crime (including domestic abuse)

b) addicted people (alcohol, narcotics or any other substance addictions) or addictive patterns or behaviour

c) new parents

d) those with, or caring for persons with, any long-term illness or terminal conditions or who are vulnerable

e) people facing problems in relation to their sexuality or identity including lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender

f) those who have suffered bereavement

g) vulnerable young people, including  to enable them to meet youth workers

The limit of 15 people does not include children under 5 accompanying a parent or guardian or those working or volunteering for the support meetings.


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