Church buildings can re-open after national lockdown ends on 2 December

(Photo: Facebook/Church of England)

Churches can open their buildings for services again after the national lockdown ends on 2 December in a move welcomed by Christian leaders. 

The Government confirmed yesterday that places of worship will be open across all three tiers subject to some social distancing restrictions. 

These vary according to tiers, with those in tier one having to follow the rule of six, while those in tiers two and three are not permitted to interact with those outside their household or support bubble. 

Further announcements on the three tiers are due on Thursday although it is expected they will differ little from before the national lockdown, with communal singing still not allowed. 

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England's Recovery Group, said the clarification from the Government would make it easier for churches to plan for Christmas. 

"We are encouraged by the confirmation that places of worship will soon be able to reopen for public worship in all tiers and in all parts of the country," she said.

"Churches and cathedrals can now approach Advent and Christmas with more certainty; a time when we know many people will look forward to attending services celebrating the birth of Jesus.

"We await more detailed guidance and will update our own advice once this is published."

The Evangelical Alliance called the announcement "great" news. 

Announcing the Government's post-lockdown plan in Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year." 

He added that people would have to use "careful judgement" to decide whether or not to spend the season with elderly or at-risk loved ones. 

"In a period of adversity, time spend with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none," he explained," he said. 

"We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don't want to do is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January."