Churches are 'one of the safest places' to be, says Church leader

Canterbury Cathedral at Christmas(Photo: Canterbury Cathedral)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he will be at church on Christmas Day and is encouraging others to do the same, whether online or in person.

Speaking to BBC's Newsnight, Archbishop Justin Welby said that churches were "one of the safest places going at the moment" given the social distancing and extra hygiene measures being put in place. 

Places of worship will be re-opening when the national lockdown ends on 2 December, although ongoing restrictions in tiers 2 and 3 will limit interaction between worshippers to their household or support bubbles. 

The Archbishop said that "of course" people "should go to church" this Christmas, although he added that physical services would not be as full this year. 

"Go to church online. Go to church physically," he said. 

"You'll find that far fewer people will be there, because we're keeping people two metres apart. Go to church, pray.

"Remember at the heart of Christmas is the gift of Jesus Christ, by God, to give us hope and life and a future. And it's that hope that's at the centre of Christmas."

He added: "I will certainly be in church. That's one of the safest places going at the moment, and it will be permitted from the end of lockdown. But there will be very few people there.

"And we will wait a bit closer to Christmas to make a final decision, but at the moment the plan is that few of us gather, that we are not too close to each other, we care for each other, we look after each other."