Welsh churches to re-open for private prayer

(Photo: Unsplash/Hermes Rivera)

Churches in Wales can re-open for private prayer from Monday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced. 

The Welsh Government said at its coronavirus briefing that it would be further easing lockdown restrictions, with non-essential shops also set to re-open after the weekend. 

While churches can open again for private prayer following strict safety measures, they still cannot meet for services or larger gatherings, including weddings, funerals and baptisms. 

The Church in Wales has worked with the Government on safety measures for churches.  Responding to the easing of restrictions, the Church in Wales said its member churches would have to complete a Covid risk assessment before re-opening and maintain a two metre distance between visitors, while also ensuring sufficient hygine and cleaning protocols. 

It said that not all churches would be able to re-open on Monday, with a significant factor for churches being their ability to enlist a sufficient number of volunteers to monitor social distancing and keep buildings clean. 

Bishops in the Church in Wales said in a statement: "A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential.

"What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time.

"Whilst we all look forward to the day that all our churches can open safely, we urge local safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors."

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, added, "We are grateful for the permission which has been given to open churches for private prayer where it is both safe and practical to do so.

"This will bring spiritual comfort and support to many people, particularly in these tense and anxious days. While we are still unable to hold services, it is a hopeful sign that we are coming though this pandemic.

"We are very grateful to our clergy and volunteers who will now be working hard to ensure the churches that can open can do so safely by meeting our robust criteria."