Church of England Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches: Updated 12 Jul

Updated Monday 12th July, 6.32pm

A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “We note the Health Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons this afternoon and the Prime Minister’s press conference this evening confirming plans to move towards the next stage of the Government’s roadmap on July 19 while urging caution in response to rising cases of Covid-19 propelled by the Delta variant.

“The prospect of the lifting of legal restrictions will be both a relief and a cause of anxiety and we are aware that there is likely still to be significant guidance in place. 

“We have already been considering our current guidance to churches and are awaiting updated Government guidance for places of worship. 

“We will also be seeking further clarification through the Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce, which meets later this week, on a range of areas affecting public worship and places of worship.”

The guidance below is produced to help churches navigate the changing situation as restrictions to limit the transmission of Covid-19 are progressively eased. It reflects Government regulations and accompanying Guidance documents which are themselves evolving in line with the national reopening ‘roadmap’. It will be updated as Government guidance evolves. Although it draws together documents produced by different Government departments relevant to places of worship, it does not attempt to cover every possible situation.

Churches are encouraged to continue to take all steps necessary to limit the transmission of the virus.

While some parishes continue to offer digital services only, for the time being, many others have either remained open for individual prayer and public worship following Covid risk assessments or are in the process of reopening for in-person worship. The circumstances in each parish will inform local decision-making. 

As the Church, along with the rest of society, begins to contemplate the future it is already clear that many congregations will continue to stream services and meet online as part of a ‘mixed-mode’ approach to worship in the wake of the pandemic.

Updated Monday July 05, 18:45:

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, commented following the Prime Minister’s press conference outlining plans to lift most restrictions from July 19.

Read her statement here

Updated Monday June 14, 19:19:

Following the Prime Minister’s statement on coronavirus restrictions, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said:

“The confirmation tonight of a delay in the next stage of lifting Covid-19 restrictions will be a blow to many people but I understand why this decision has been taken.

“I am hugely thankful for the success and speed of the vaccination programme which has undoubtedly saved many lives – but we do have to take the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant very seriously and do all we can to protect each other as Christians called to love our neighbour.

“I know from those on the front line that the pressures on the NHS are extreme and understand that a delay of a few more weeks in lifting restrictions could make a big difference in helping us all to get ahead in the ‘race’ against this virus which has caused so much death and misery.

“Thankfully church buildings remain open for public worship and prayer. While we look forward to restrictions on worship being lifted in the near future, I will continue to press for ongoing appraisal of choral and congregational singing.

“We will also update our guidance on public worship where necessary in light of today’s announcement and I understand that the Business Committee of the General Synod will be looking at options for the planned July meeting of Synod in the next few days.

“The Prime Minister’s comments about lifting the limit of 30 people attending weddings will be a relief to many. We will await the detail from the Government about what it means in practice and will update our guidance to churches accordingly.

“Most of all, however, we do have hope. This pandemic has been a trial for us all but we put our trust in God and have hope that there are better times to come.”

The guidance below is produced to help churches navigate the changing situation as restrictions to limit the transmission of Covid-19 are progressively eased. It reflects Government regulations and accompanying Guidance documents which are themselves evolving in line with the national reopening ‘roadmap’. It will be updated as Government guidance evolves. Although it draws together documents produced by different Government departments relevant to places of worship, it does not attempt to cover every possible situation.

Churches are encouraged to continue to take all steps necessary to limit the transmission of the virus.

While some parishes continue to offer digital services only, for the time being, many others have either remained open for individual prayer and public worship following Covid risk assessments or are in the process of reopening for in-person worship. The circumstances in each parish will inform local decision-making. 

As the Church, along with the rest of society, begins to contemplate the future it is already clear that many congregations will continue to stream services and meet online as part of a ‘mixed-mode’ approach to worship in the wake of the pandemic.

Updated Thursday May 20, 11:31:

The Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s adviser on medical ethics and health policy, said: “The changes in guidance which come into effect today represent a relatively modest step along the road of easing restrictions affecting places of worship in common with many other public places.

“The increase in maximum numbers at weddings and the lifting of the cap on those permitted to attend funerals will be welcome by many families.

“A more extensive easing of restrictions is expected next month when England is due to move to step four on the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap.

“However, despite major progress in the rollout of vaccinations, recent developments around the world – especially the tragic events in India – show that there is still uncertainty ahead and we we will continue to encourage a measured approach to the path forward as we seek to protect the most vulnerable.”

Updated documents:

Updated Monday May 17, 16:46:

The Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s adviser on medical ethics and health policy, said: “The changes in guidance which come into effect today represent a relatively modest step along the road of easing restrictions affecting places of worship in common with many other public places.

“The increase in maximum numbers at weddings and the lifting of the cap on those permitted to attend funerals will be welcome by many families.

“A more extensive easing of restrictions is expected next month when England is due to move to step four on the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap.

“However, despite major progress in the rollout of vaccinations, recent developments around the world – especially the tragic events in India – show that there is still uncertainty ahead and we we will continue to encourage a measured approach to the path forward as we seek to protect the most vulnerable.”

Updated documents:

Updated FAQ:

  • Is singing permitted? in the Prayer and worship section

Last updated: Tuesday 4 May, 00:15

Updated FAQs:

  • Can we host children and youth groups? in the Community support section
  • How should we complete a risk assessment for our church building? in the Safety, safeguarding and wellbeing section
  • What guidance is in place for clergy, church workers and volunteers who are deemed to be at additional risk? in the Safety, safeguarding and wellbeing section

New FAQs

  • What resources are available to support mental health and emotional well-being? in the Community support section

Last updated: Wednesday 31 March, 17:25

New Documents:

Updated Documents:

Update FAQS:

  • Is singing permitted? in the Prayer and Worship section
  • Is there any guidance concerning our APCM meeting? in Finance and governance section

Last updated: Friday 26 March, 15:11

Updated Documents:

Update FAQS:

  • Is singing permitted? in the Prayer and Worship section
  • Can weddings go ahead? in Life Events section

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally said: “We are grateful to the Government for clarity on guidance for singing as we head into Holy Week and Easter. From Palm Sunday, congregations will be able to sing in the church grounds, and a small group of singers may now sing indoors. This will allow churches and cathedrals to plan their worship to help online and in-person congregations to mark the journey of the Passion and resurrection – a journey of hope, while making local arrangements to ensure transmission risk is minimised.”

Last updated: Monday 22 March, 14.55

New FAQ:

  • How can we contribute to vaccination equity campaigns?
  • How can I get a lateral flow test?

Read about VaccinAid, a campaign launched by Unicef and Crowdfunder, which aims to deliver 2.5 billion vaccines globally and which the Church of England helped to bring about.

Last updated: Friday 05 March, 15.15

Following the Prime Minister’s statement to the Commons outlining the Government’s spring response, the Bishop of London has responded.

Our current guidance on the four-step roadmap reflects the information we have on the upcoming changes to restrictions, understanding that the dates given are indicative and that further information may not be available until we approach each step.

We continue to work with the Government through the Places of Worship Taskforce and will update our guidance on this website as soon as new information is published by the Government.

Last updated: Monday 22 February, 17.35

Following the Prime Minister’s statement to the Commons outlining the Government’s spring response, The Bishop of London has responded.

The advice on this page will be reviewed and updated as changes come into effect.

Last updated: Tuesday 19 January, 10:11

New FAQ:

  • What advice is available for services during Lent, Holy Week, and Easter?

New documents:

Read a response from the Bishop of London to the Prime Minister’s statement outlining new restrictions in England

We will continue to review and update advice documents in light of Government guidance.

Last updated: Thursday 14 January, 11:52

Updated documents:

Read a response from the Bishop of London to the Prime Minister’s statement outlining new restrictions in England

We will continue to review and update advice documents in light of Government guidance.

Last updated: Tuesday 12 January, 10.01

Updated/New FAQ:

  • Is singing permitted? (in Prayer and worship) – further update in light of amended Government Guidance. 

Monday 11 January, 14.50

Updated/New FAQ:

  • Is singing permitted? (in Prayer and worship) – further update in light of amended Government Guidance. 

Monday 11 January, 13.45

The Government has today updated its guidance for places of worship

Updated/New FAQ:

  • Is singing permitted? (in Prayer and worship)
  • Should I work if I’m clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)? (in Safety, safeguarding & wellbeing)

Read a response from the Bishop of London to the Prime Minister’s statement outlining new restrictions in England

We will continue to review and update advice documents in light of Government guidance.

Last updated: Wednesday 6 January at 16:20

Updated documents:

Updated/New FAQ:

  • What is permitted during lockdown?
  • What do we need to do if we have decided to suspend public worship?
  • Can churches be used as vaccination centres?
  • Can funerals go ahead?
  • Can weddings go ahead?

Read a response from the Bishop of London to the Prime Minister’s statement outlining new restrictions in England

We have streamlined the advice on this page, and will continue to review advice documents in light of Government guidance.

Last updated Monday 4 January at 21:25

Read a response from the Bishop of London to the Prime Minister’s statement outlining new restrictions in England

The advice on this page will be reviewed in the coming days in line with Government guidance. 

Last updated Wednesday 30 December at 15:47

The Government has announced a formal tiering review, whereby more areas have been elevated to tiers 4 and 3. The guidance for places of worship within tiers has not changed at this time, and public worship may continue in all tiers, in line with the Government guidance and the advice below.  

We are also conscious of those who will not wish to attend a church building in light of increased numbers of cases, and many churches will continue to offer local streamed worship, together with national online weekly worship and daily audio prayer services via the Time to Pray app and podcast, and the Daily Hope telephone line for any who are unable to access the internet. 

See church online for more details.

Last updated Monday 21 December at 16:02

Following the announcement by the Prime Minister on Saturday a new Tier 4 level of restrictions is now in place. The latest Government guidance is here and specific guidance for those in Tier 4 areas is here. We await further updated guidance for Places of Worship and will share it here when available.

New Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable in new Tier 4 areas has been published.

Read a Church of England response to updated coronavirus guidance in response to the Prime Minister’s statement about Christmas arrangements.

Updated documents:

Last updated Thursday 17 December at 16:36

Read a comment from the Bishop of London in response to the Prime Minister’s statement about Christmas arrangements.

Updated documents: 

Wednesday 09 December at 17:54

Updated Documents:

Tuesday 08 December at 14:13

Following the publication of the Government’s guidance for Places of Worship, we are updating all our documentation to ensure it is in line with current guidance. The following updates have recently been made. The top box in each document details any changes:

New Documents:

Updated Documents:

Tuesday 01 December at 12:22

The Government has published its Places of Worship guidance including rules applicable from 2 December.

We are reviewing our advice in light of this and will update our Q&A and documentation as soon as possible.

Monday 23 November

Following the publication of the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan, including permission for the resumption of public worship, we are awaiting the publication of detailed guidance after which we will update our advice.

Read a statement from the Bishop of London

Thursday 12 November at 16:29

New FAQs:

  • Can I still undertake pastoral visiting under the new restrictions? in the Community support section

Monday 09 November at 13.17

  • Q&A which are not applicable during second lockdown have been removed
  • All documents have been left live for reference, but please note that advice contained within may not be relevant during lockdown. We have marked individual documents which contain guidance which is not relevant during lockdown.

Last updated Friday 06 November at 13:05

New Documents:

New FAQs:

  • What youth and children’s activities can take place during the new national lockdown? in the Schools, nurseries and youth provision section

Updated FAQs:

  • Can we still hold a Remembrance Sunday service? in the Prayer and worship section

Last updated Tuesday 03 November at 14:12

Updated FAQs:

  • Can we still hold a remembrance Sunday service? in the Prayer and worship section

Last updated Saturday 31 October at 19:50

Please read our latest statement in response to the Government announcement of a second lockdown in England. 

Visit the Government website for the most recent updates.

Last updated Monday 19 October at 14:21

Updated Documents:

Last updated Friday 16 October at 16:40

Since Wednesday 14 October, a new three-tier risk alert system for COVID-19 has been in place in England. View our at-a-glance guide to the restrictions for churches. We will study Government detailed Government guidance when it is available and amend our advice as necessary.

New FAQs:

  • Who can attend a wedding? in the Life events section
  • What should I do if a member of my congregation tests positive for COVID-19? in the General section

Updated Documents:

Last updated Tuesday 13 October at 11:40

Following the announcement on Monday October 12 of a new three-tier risk alert system for COVID-19, we understand that Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers – although at the ‘high’ and ‘very high’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households.

This recognises the important role churches and other places of worship continue to play in serving their communities and providing vital comfort and support to people amid very difficult times.

However, we fully appreciate the scale of the threat from COVID-19 and recognise the vigilance that places of worship will need to continue to practice in order to minimise the possibility of spread of the virus.

We will study Government detailed Government guidance when it is available and amend our advice as necessary.

Last updated Friday 25 September at 16:00

New FAQs:

  • Can we still hold a Remembrance Sunday service? in the Prayer and worship section
  • Can confirmations still go ahead? in the Life events section

Updated FAQs:

  • Can funerals still go ahead? in the Life events section 
  • Can weddings still go ahead? in the Life events section 
  • Can baptisms still go ahead? in the Life events section
  • Can ordinations still go ahead? in the Life events section

Updated Documents:

Last updated Tuesday September 22 at 14.25

Following the announcement by the Prime Minister of new measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, the Church of England is continuing to engage with Government departments to review advice to churches. 

The Prime Minister emphasised that we can draw comfort from the fact that places of worship as well as schools and businesses are staying open.

We note the change from a maximum of 30 attending weddings to a maximum of 15 from Monday September 28 and will study any detailed documents when they are available and amend advice to churches accordingly.

We anticipate further updates in the next few days with further additions to the FAQs and we also continue to review the downloadable guidance papers which will be updated accordingly. All updates will be notified at the top of this page.

Last updated Tuesday September 15 at 13:45

The Government has issued an updated version of its guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic in light of the new ‘rule of six’ regulations.

The Church of England is continuing to engage with the Government. All of the advice below is being reviewed.  Updates and amendments will be highlighted at the top of this page as they are made.

Last updated Wednesday 09 September at 10:42

Following indications that the number of people permitted to take part in a social gathering is to be reduced from 30 to six in England, we understand the new regulations will not apply to public worship or individual prayer in church buildings. Read our short statement.

Last updated Thursday 03 September at 12:05

  • Updated FAQ Should we still deliver printed communication? in General section

Last updated Tuesday 25 August at 9:10

  • Updated FAQ Can church bells be rung? in Prayer and worship section

Last updated Thursday 20 August at 9:20

Monday 17 August at 14:32

Read more