Places of Worship Guidance – November 2020

(Updated on 05/11/2020)
On 31st October at 8:30pm the Prime Minister announced further widespread restriction in England
beginning on Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. The Government is taking the
following action:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes.
  2. Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
  3. Closing certain businesses and venues.
    For more information, please see ‘New National Restrictions from 5 November’ –
    Under the new guidance, places of worship are permitted to open solely for the following purposes –
    • Funerals
    • To broadcast acts of worship
    • Individual prayer
    • Formal childcare or where part of a school
    • Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
    • Other exempted activities such as some support groups
    What does ‘Individual Prayer’ mean?
    From 05 November 2020, places of worship will be permitted to open for individual prayer.
    Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to
    pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially
    distanced from other individuals or households.
    Weddings, Civil Partnerships and Funerals
    Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked ceremonial events such as stone
    settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is
    not counted in the 15 or 30. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live
    together or share a support bubble.
    Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except where one of
    those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These
    weddings are limited to 6 people.
    Places of Worship in Redbridge
    In Redbridge, we recognise the importance religion and places of worship has within our
    communities. We have seen these places come together to help our most vulnerable residents
    during this unprecedented pandemic. Our faith buildings bring comfort, security and enrichment to
    our communities and we must ensure they remain safe during this health pandemic.
    It is anticipated that before a place of worship opens, faith leaders;
    • carry out Covid-19 specific risk assessment for the place of worship
    • tailor the guidance from the national faith bodies as appropriate for the venue and practices
    being carried out.
    The risk assessments, should include reference to clear social distancing markings, thorough cleaning
    of shared spaces, hand cleansing at entry and exit, asking worshippers to wear face masks and to
    bring their own items such as a prayer mat or religious text instead of sharing or using communal
    ones, etc.
    It is very clear, only individual prayer will be permitted from 05 November, communally led prayer,
    worship or devotion such as services, evensong, informal prayer meetings, Mass, Jummah prayers or
    Kirtan will not be possible at this stage. All out of school activities, not being primarily used by
    parents for the purposes set out in Education and childcare settings guidance, must close for face to
    face provision but can offer remote education, for the duration of the national restrictions.
    The following is permitted for Places of worship in Redbridge –
    • Places of worship are permitted to broadcast prayers/services. ❖ Who can be involved in the broadcast from a place of worship? Attending a place of worship for broadcasting or filming an act of worship is permitted but should only involve those people working or volunteering who are essential for the content of the service, and for technical support to enable people to watch and worship online or via a television or radio. If musicians or singers usually form part of the act of worship that is being broadcast, they may participate but only if they are essential to the delivery of that act of worship. The numbers or people involved should be kept as small as possible to minimise risks and participants should follow social distancing guidance. • We encourage prayers are transmitted/live streamed to provide comfort to those at home. • All places of worship may remain open to the public for solitary prayer only.
    • Time spent in the place of worship must be limited to essentials only.
  • These two times must not coincide
    Places of worship still have discretion over when they consider it safe to open and may decide to
    close. Those in charge of running a place of worship should engage and communicate with
    worshippers to explain what activity is permitted and what is still prohibited. This will ensure that
    worshippers understand what the current situation is regarding their place of worship, as well
    reducing the risk of a resident visiting a place of worship that has decided to close.
    The safety of our residents remains our number one priority. That is why our advice is that places of
    worship in Redbridge should only open if they have all the necessary measures in place and have
    carried out a risk assessment of the place of worship. Places of worship will already have risk
    assessments in place and copies of templates from national faith bodies and the Council, please
    adapt these accordingly.
    We urge all places of worship to continue to assess the situation carefully and consider whether they
    remain open during this moment in time. Our priority must be the health and wellbeing of all
    Please note: This guidance will be subject to updates and changes based on advice from relevant
    teams, bodies and organisations. Please continue to check with the Council. For further information, contact