'Wearing a mask is loving your neighbour' - Justin Welby

Justin Welby delivering an online service from his kitchen

The Archbishop of Canterbury is urging people to get on board with Covid-19 restrictions. 

In a Twitter post that drew some hostile responses, Justin Welby drew on Matthew 22:39 in which Jesus tells his followers that loving their neighbours as themselves is the second great commandment after loving God. 

Welby told his 153,000 Twitter followers that social distancing and wearing masks were some of the ways they could love their neighbour. 

"Wearing a mask is loving your neighbour. Keeping your distance is loving your neighbour. Washing your hands is loving your neighbourm," he tweeted.

"Let's keep loving our neighbours." 

Some Christians disagreed strongly with the Archbishop's sentiments. 

Simon Bailey, national chaplain to Horse Racing UK and a member of Sports Chaplaincy UK, wrote: "Loving our neighbour is sitting in the room with those who are sick, scared and lost. I will not be keeping my distance if someone needs me to be close. I will not be faceless to those who are in need of my full self." 

Other Twitter users suggested Jesus, who often touched the sick when healing them, set a different example. 

"I am not religious, but didn't Jesus mingle with and cure the sick? I don't recall him telling them to get back 2 metres," said one Twitter user.

Others were more sympathetic with the Archbishop's message. 

One exasperated mother wrote: "Please tell that to the parents of the kids in my children's primary school because I am the only one wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and reminding my children to keep their distance. I'm not even exaggerating." 

Lawyer Matthew Parish suggested more understanding: "I think we must be careful criticising Church leaders or praising them. Establishing a proper response to this pandemic is not easy because we do not have enough information. Church leaders are trying their hardest. But civil liberties are being corroded."