• Savannah Mayo

COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship


The UK is experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The transmission of COVID-19 occurs mainly through respiratory droplets generated by coughing and sneezing, and through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Places of worship play an important role in providing spiritual leadership for many individuals, and in bringing communities and generations together. However, their communal nature also makes them places that are particularly vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government continues to work with its Places of Worship Taskforce and faith leaders to review and amend this guidance, as necessary, in line with the changing situation and to enable the safe opening of places of worship for as broad a range of activities as possible when it is safe to do so.

This guidance applies to places of worship only. It does not apply to private dwellings.

It applies in England alongside the relevant associated changes to the law.

National lockdown

On 4 January the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown for all of England. There is different advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These restrictions:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes

  • prevent people gathering with those they do not live with, except for specific purposes

  • close certain businesses and venues

Where possible, when visiting a place of worship you should stay local and avoid travelling outside your local area, meaning your village or town, or part of a city.

Under the national lockdown, places of worship remain open for communal worship. This is now one of the very few legal exemptions that allow larger numbers of people to gather. It is therefore crucial that places of worship and those attending comply with both law and the COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Under these restrictions, places of worship in England must only open for the following purposes:

Individual prayer

A person, or single household, entering the venue to pray on their own.

The number of individuals or households permitted in a place of worship at any one time will be dependent on the size of the building and ability to socially distance therein.

Communal worship, including prayers, devotions or meditations led by a Minister of Religion or lay person

Limits for communal worship should be decided on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following an assessment of risk.


Funerals must have no more than 30 people.

Anyone working is not included as part of the 30 person limit. Please refer to COVID-19: guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information and to read the full guidance please visit:

COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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