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Churches and other places of worship can reopen for ‘congregational worship and prayer’ from today.
As a result, the Scottish Government has published guidance to help them prepare and the measures include:
- Restrictions on capacity so that two-metre distancing can be maintained between individuals from different households.
- No place of worship should admit more than 50 people at any one time, regardless of its size or usual capacity, with a limit of 20 for weddings and funerals.
- Keeping contact details to share for ‘Test and Protect’ if required.
- No communal prayer books, prayer mats or other shared items.
- Faith leaders and those responsible for places of worship must take all reasonable measures to adapt faith-specific rites and rituals to ensure the safety of those present.
- Singing, chanting and the playing of wind instruments ‘should be avoided’ pending further scientific and medical advice on the risks of transmission from such activities
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said in a statement: ‘I know it has been very difficult for our faith communities to be unable to come together in their places of worship during such challenging times.
‘We have continued to engage closely with them throughout this period and we understand the important role of congregational worship in supporting spiritual well-being.
‘The updated guidance reflects the evolving scientific and health advice and has been developed in consultation with leaders and representatives of Scotland’s faith and belief communities.’
Churches and other places of worship will be allowed to reopen for the following additional permitted purposes:
• Congregational services, including pre-arranged or scheduled acts of worship and communal prayer
• Religious life event ceremonies, such as baptisms, christenings and coming-of-age ceremonies
• Marriage ceremonies and, where celebrants in a faith community undertake them, civil partnerships registrations