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Face masks mandatory, but not for leading worship

05 August 2020

Exemptions apply, including bride and groom at weddings

St Albans Cathedral

Masked clergy at the distribution during the morning eucharist in St Albans Cathedral last Sunday

Masked clergy at the distribution during the morning eucharist in St Albans Cathedral last Sunday

THERE is new Church of England guidance on face coverings in places of worship, which will be mandatory for congregations from Saturday but not for those officiating at a service.

The move comes after the announcement last Friday by the Prime Minister that, from Saturday 8 August, the requirement to wear a face covering would be extended to “other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas, and places of worship”.

Church of England guidance, issued on Wednesday, says, however, that there will be exemptions for those “who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer)”. Other worshippers will be required to wear masks.

The exemptions will also cover the bride and bridegroom at a wedding and those “officiating/leading”. They do not apply to “those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space”.

In line with government advice, children under 11 and people with disabilities or certain health conditions are also exempt.

The Government had previously stated that, from 24 July, face coverings were only to be “encouraged” in places of worship, while C of E guidance was that masks were “strongly advised” (News, 24 July).

 

The guidance in full: 

Face coverings during worship

In England, face coverings are currently required by law to be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport. From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. distributing consumables). This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

 

Face coverings during weddings

In England, face coverings are currently required by law to be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport. From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, registry offices, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship. Those exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating/leading the wedding. This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

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