Churches and other places of worship look set to open for private prayer from June 15th 2020.

The UK Government says individuals will be able to “reflect and pray” while adhering to social-distancing rules.

But worship groups, weddings and other services will still not be permitted.

Downing Street says the changes will only be made if the Government’s five tests for easing lockdown are met.

I spoke with Bishop Stephen Lowe, a former Bishop of Hulme in the Anglican Diocese of Manchester, on LBC News, who told me the announcement has been a long time coming.

“Certain parts of the faith traditions are getting pretty upset about it, particularly Cardinal Nichols, who has been demanding that his churches be reopened forthwith and I think it’s not unreasonable.

“It’s going to be a very strange experience. We’re simply talking about churches being open for individuals to go in for private prayer, not for services of any kind.”

A Number 10 spokesperson says the plan is to open up places of worship “in a safe, Covid-secure way that does not risk further transmission.”

Bishop Lowe sets out how he sees this operating. “Individuals will have to socially isolate and distance in the churches or mosques, wherever they may be; they will have to use hand sanitisers when they come in. Where they’ve actually been, in terms of praying, kneeling, sitting will have to be cleaned afterwards; so it’s quite a major exercise.

“If anybody thinks this is going to mean that St. Paul’s Cathedral is going to fling open its doors, anybody can walk in, that’s not going to be the case.

“There are going to be zoned off areas which can be used for private prayer and that’s going to be it.”

Places of worship are currently under step three of the Government’s road map to lift coronavirus restrictions in the UK and are not due to fully reopen until at least July 4th 2020.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has expressed his gratitude for the “great blessing” of churches reopening.

He added: “This first step enables us to learn and prepare for those that will take us to a fuller use of our churches, for the celebration of Mass and other sacraments.”


Philip Chryssikos | British Male Voiceover | Broadcaster | Journalist | London | UK – (Opens in a new browser tab)