Church services resume in Scotland, but with no more than 50 people

(Photo: Unsplash/Kirsten Drew)

Churches in Scotland can resume congregational worship, baptisms and christenings from today but attendance is capped at 50 people, subject to social distancing of 2m. 

Weddings can also be held in churches again but these are capped at 20 people. 

"No place of worship should admit more than 50 people at any one time, regardless of its size or usual capacity, with a limit of 20 on weddings and funerals," guidance from the Scottish Government says. 

While large gatherings are resuming, places of worship are still not permitted to use communal prayer books or other shared items. 

Singing should also be "avoided pending further scientific and medical advice on the risks of transmission from such activities". 

"Faith leaders and those responsible for places of worship must take all reasonable measures to adapt faith-specific rites and rituals to ensure the safety of those present," the Scottish Government said. 

The guidance has been published following a consultation with faith communities. 

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: "I know it has been very difficult for our faith communities to be unable to come together in their places of worship during such challenging times. This was, of course, necessary due to the pandemic and I would like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.

"We have continued to engage closely with and listen to our faith communities throughout this period and we understand the important role of congregational worship in supporting spiritual wellbeing.

"The updated guidance reflects the evolving scientific and health advice and has been developed in consultation with leaders and representatives of Scotland's faith and belief communities."

The start of public worship is part of Phase 3 of Scotland's framework for easing restrictions on lockdown.  15 July is a key date for other venues too, with the hospitality sector, museums, libraries and hairdressers all opening today. 

Scotland's shopping centres already re-opened on Monday, with the Government making the wearing of face masks mandatory at shops and on public transport.