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Outdoor gatherings on Armistice Day in England no longer illegal

10 November 2020


A veteran lays a wreath at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, on Sunday

A veteran lays a wreath at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, on Sunday

THE regulations on public worship during the lockdown period have been changed at the last minute, to allow for outside gatherings in England to take place on Wednesday, Armistice Day.

The ban on collective worship, announced ten days ago, had allowed an exemption only for Remembrance Sunday on 8 November and a service in Westminster Abbey on 11 November. On Monday, the Government made a small addition to the list of exceptions, inserting the words “Armistice Day” into regulations 6(2)(f) and 11(18)(a)(i). An explanatory note said: “These Regulations make amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 to permit attendance at outside events commemorating Armistice Day.”

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made the amendments at 2 p.m. on Monday and presented them to Parliament at 4.30 p.m.

A letter to The Daily Telegraph, published earlier that day by a General Synod member and retired lawyer, David Lamming, had asked for the exemption made for Westminster Abbey on Armistice Day to be extended to anyone gathering in towns and villages to remember the war dead.

He pointed out that “the holding of traditional acts of Remembrance on Wednesday at town and village war memorials around the country will be illegal,” describing this as “shameful”.

A motion to debate the ban on collective worship will come before the General Synod later this month. It argues that churches play a crucial role in “building mental and spiritual resilience to face the crisis” (News, 6 November).

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