COVID-19 Government guidance
This page contains Government guidance on COVID-19.
The current UK Government guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do.
UK Government information on COVID-19 is at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The NHS guidance can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
The current Sottish Government guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
The NHS Scotland guidance can be found at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
The current Welsh Government guidance can be found at: https://gov.wales/coronavirus
The NHS Wales guidance can be found at: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/
The current Northern Ireland Executive guidance can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19
The PHA guidance for Northern Ireland can be found at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus
Places of worship
Places of worship remain open in all four nations of the UK.
UK Government England
The current UK government guidance for places of worship, last updated on 25 February 2022, is at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship.
On 4 January 2021 the UK Government announced a new national lockdown in England from 5 January. People can attend places of worship for a service but must not mingle with anyone outside of their household or support bubble. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
On 23 November 2020 the UK Government announced that national restrictions in England will end on 2 December 2020 and local tier restrictions will then be in place. Places of worship are permitted to re-open for collective worship, in line with different restrictions in each tier level. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know
On 31 October 2020 the UK Government announced that new national restrictions will be in place across the whole of England from 5 November 2020, for at least 4 weeks. Places of worship are permitted to open only for the purposes of independent prayer, for funerals or funeral commemorative events, to broadcast an act of worship, to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, for registered childcare, and to host permitted gatherings. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#weddings-civil-partnerships-religious-services-and-funerals
The Prime Minister's statement of 12 October 2020 introduced a new three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels for England, coming into force on 14 October 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-announces-new-local-covid-alert-levels Under each Alert Level places of worship are permitted to remain open with certain restrictions. Guidance on the restrictions for each Alert Level can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know.
Following the Prime Minister's statement of 22 September 2020, the Government issued an update to its guidance on safe use of places of worship https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july This followed previous updates in July and August 2020.
The Prime Minister’s statement of 9 September 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-press-conference-statement-9-september-2020), announcing a reduction in the number of people allowed to meet legally from thirty to six, confirmed that places of worship are able to stay open for communal worship and will be able to host numbers larger than six for communal worship.
On 14 August 2020, Government updated its guidance on safe use of multi-purpose community facilities https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities
On 27 July 2020, shortly before Eid Al-Adha, the Government issued an update to its guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/special-religious-services-and-gatherings-covid-19-checklist This guidance, most recently updated on 12 April 2021, provides “key principles that should help us all make decisions that ensure we can all take part in special religious services and gatherings safely.”
On June 29 2020, the UK Government published guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July 2020. (see above for later updates)
On 23 June 2020, the Prime Minister announced the further easing of lockdown restrictions from 4 July 2020. Places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services, including weddings with a maximum of 30 people, all subject to social distancing rules. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-to-the-house-on-covid-19-23-june-2020
On 12 June 2020, the UK Government published new guidance for the safe ropening of places of worship in line with social distancing rules. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic
On 7 June 2020, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that places of worship across England will be allowed to reopen for individual prayer from Monday 15 June 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/places-of-worship-to-re-open-for-individual-prayer
In the UK Government's daily coronavirus press conference on 31 May 2020, Robert Jenrick said that the UK Government's first step regarding the reopening of places of worship will be to open them for individual or private prayer in the coming weeks, and that they are working closely with faith leaders to ensure this.
On 13 May 2020, the UK Government updated its guidance on the closure of certain businesses and venues in England, including places of worship https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, announced that the government is setting up task forces to look at how to safely reopen places of worship. The Government's current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July 2020. The UK Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy can be viewed here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884760/Our_plan_to_rebuild_The_UK_Government_s_COVID-19_recovery_strategy.pdf
On 23 March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation, calling for the closure of all places of worship. A transcript of the speech can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-to-the-nation-on-coronavirus-23-march-2020
The latest Scottish Government guidance for places of worship, last updated on 2 March 2022, is at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/
The latest Welsh Government guidance for places of worship is at: https://gov.wales/alert-level-0-guidance-employers-businesses-and-organisations
Northern Ireland Executive
The latest Northern Ireland Executive guidance for places of worship is at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-places-worship
UK Government England
The latest UK Government guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic is at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic. This was last updated on 11 February 2022.
On 9 April 2020 the UK Government clarified the position on cemeteries and burial grounds, now listed as an 'exception' and therefore able to remain open: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance. Following concerns about the inability of families to attend funerals, MHCLG Minister of State Simon Clarke MP wrote on 17 April 2020 to local authorities in England https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-plans-to-ensure-bereaved-families-can-attend-funerals-during-pandemic and MHCLG published the following guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-death-management (last updated on 14 May 2020). A further letter from him to local authorities of 23 April 2020 speaks of guidance being updated to make clear "that burial grounds and cemeteries may remain open, and that grounds surrounding crematoria may also remain open, including gardens of remembrance" and says that his officials "have made accompanying technical amendments to the Regulations to dispel all confusion surrounding the status of burial grounds, and people’s ability to visit them and similar places". See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-parks-and-public-spaces-including-burial-grounds-and-cemeteries
The following advice, targeted more at health and funeral professionals is relevant to handling of care of the deceased. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased/guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased-with-suspected-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19 This was last updated on 15 December 2021.
The latest Scottish Government guidance for funerals is at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/
The latest Welsh Government guidance for funerals is at: https://gov.wales/guidance-local-authorities-funerals-covid-19
Northern Ireland Executive
The latest Northern Ireland Executive guidance for funerals is at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-and-guidance-what-they-mean-you#toc-13
The current Government guidance on volunteering in the 4 nations of the UK can be viewed here: