Ministers can go to church to livestream services, Government clarifies

(Photo: Pexels/Brett Sayles)

The Government has clarified its guidelines on the closure of businesses and other buildings, including places of worship. 

In the updated guidance, the Government said that a minister of religion could still go to their place of worship "including to broadcast an act of worship to people outside the place of worship, whether over the internet or otherwise". 

The guidance states that places of worship can also open for funerals as long as they are attended only by immediate family "with provision for a carer, if required" or "a friend in the case that no family members are attending". 

Those attending funerals must observe a distance of two metres between every household group in line with official guidelines from Public Health England.

Other exemptions to church closures include those that host essential voluntary or public services like food banks, homeless services and blood donation sessions. 

"As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus," the Government said. 

"That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, staying at home and away from others, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend." 

The Church of England on Tuesday ordered all of its church buildings to close, including for solitary prayer and the broadcasting of services, in light of the latest guidelines. 

In a letter to clergy, the archbishops and bishops said that any livestreaming of services must be done by vicars from their homes.

"We must take a lead in showing our communities how we must behave in order to slow down the spread of the coronavirus," they said. 

"We must also do all that we can to provide resources and support for those who are isolated, fearful and vulnerable.

"But we have to do this from our homes."

The Methodist Church has also announced the closure of all its church buildings "for the foreseeable future". 

The exception for both the Church of England and Methodist Churches are those running food banks and homeless services as long as they are carried out in line with Government guidelines. 

The updated guidance from the Methodist Church said: "The Methodist Church suspended worship services last week with some churches still opening for quiet prayer and reflection. This must now also be suspended."

The Rev Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Conference said: "We are asking people to change their way of 'going to church' to help to protect themselves and others. We have put in place measures that will enable Methodists still to be part of the worshipping community, whilst for everyone's sake staying away from church buildings.

"There is a range of resources available for people to use at home which we hope will help them to continue their cycle of prayer and worship.

"The Methodist Church is more than its buildings and if in these unprecedented times we can continue our life as Methodists without using our buildings we will help to reduce the chances of transmission of the virus."