What are the rules for places of worship from July 4?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 July 2020

West front of Norwich Cathedral sen through the Erpingham Gate. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

West front of Norwich Cathedral sen through the Erpingham Gate. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

Norwich Cathedral © 2020

Places of worship will be allowed to resume services under new guidance from today.

Churches, synagogues and mosques and other religious venues have been adapting to measures to ensure social distancing and other preventative measures when they welcome worshippers back for services for the first time in three months.

How many people can places of worship welcome?

Communal worship, such as led prayers, should be decided based on the capacity and social distancing.

Marriage, funeral and other life cycle ceremonies services should have no more than 30 people in attendance.

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How does this affect services?

The guidance advices individuals should be prevented from touching or kissing objects that are handled communally. Sharing food and drink is also strongly advised against.

Reusable and communal resources such as prayer mats, service sheets, religious texts or devotional material should be removed from use and replaced with single use alternatives that can be removed by the worshipper, who may bring their own.

In circumstances where worshippers cannot bring their own books, places of worship should keep a selection of clean books for individuals to use.

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Items should be subject to 48 hour quarantine after use.

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Will there be music?

Singing, chanting and use of musical instruments should be avoided in the most cases to limit the risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets, even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings used.

Spoken responses during services should not be at a raised voice and communal singing should not happen at this time, with couples advised to use recordings.

Musical instruments that are not blown into, such as organs, can be played for a ceremony, but should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.

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Can I still make cash donations?

The use of cash is discouraged under the guidelines with donors asked to make such payments online. If it is not an option a receptacle should be set in one place and handled by one individual, cleaning and gloves worn to handle cash.

What can places of worship do to support social distancing?

The guidelines have offered a range of measures venues can introduce from one-way systems, multiple entry points and taking extra care through cleaning.

In the case of busy services, venues could introduce a book system.

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