Government will 'continue to be led by the science' on church singing ban

(Photo: Unsplash/Jonathan Chng)

The government is refusing to be drawn on a date for ending the current ban on congregational singing in churches. 

'Freedom Day' is just around the corner on 19 July, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that some restrictions may have to stay in place.

In the House of Lords on Wednesday, the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, asked for clarity around the continued restrictions and whether the government was planning to review the research "given that singing is not an add-on to worship but integral to it".

Answering on behalf of the government, Baroness Barran said guidance would be updated in line with the science.

"I absolutely recognise the right reverend Prelate's final remarks about singing being integral to worship," she said.

"We continue to be led by the science and the experts, and to follow the public health advice. As soon as that changes, we will of course update the guidance."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid was challenged in the Commons on Monday by Conservative MP Theresa Villiers about changing the rules "now that thousands of people are allowed to gather together at a football match to shout and cheer as much as they want". 

In reply, Javid said "that is certainly what I would like to see and it is certainly my intention to allow that to happen as soon as possible".

"When it does, I hope we can sing a hymn together," he added.

The DUP's Jim Shannon asked when worshippers would be allowed to sit in church without wearing a mask "just as diners can sit in a restaurant self-distanced without a mask". 

He said, "If we are going to have parity, then I believe that churches should have parity with restaurants."

Javid said it was his intention to remove the requirement for masks soon.

"I agree with him that as we move towards removing restrictions and step 4, we should take seriously into account what he said about people attending churches and the restrictions that they currently face. That is certainly my intention," said Javid.