This page is aimed at providing information and updates for committees and teams that run SNU Churches and Centres, and to assist them in running safely and effectively once any lockdowns / restrictions have been lifted enabling places of worship to re-open. Please check this page regularly.

Please note that the latest information is placed at the top of this page. Please make sure that you follow the latest guidance and advice. If you're not sure about any of the information on this page, we are here to help so please ask - contact Alv Hirst (Communications Director) [email protected] or phone number in your Yearbook.

Church members and congregations should check with their church or centre their re-opening schedules and under what arrangements - this will reflect their different circumstances. Please support your church and its committee.


8th September 2021: #Scotland Further to updates last month, government guidance for places of worship has seen another relaxation this past week. While face coverings (as before) are still legally required in a place of worship, the 1m distance has been relaxed, now stating "The law no longer mandates physical distancing, however we continue to advise the public that – especially indoors – it is advisable to keep a reasonable distance from people from other households. Therefore, places of worship may wish to continue the practice of physical distancing as an additional protective measure for their congregations." Places of worship are encouraged to assess the risk relating to their venue, and put measures in place accordingly.


9th August 2021: #Scotland has today moved out of the levels system, however the Scottish government has said, "Everyone should continue to act carefully and remain cautious." Face coverings are still mandatory by law in Scottish places of worship (see here) and although the legal limits on social distancing is now removed, guidance around face coverings still says that 1m social distance should be maintained when wearing one. As of today, the guidance for places of worship page has not been updated with any updated information. As always, established infection control measures and good ventilation and air flow are important actions to prevent the spread of the virus in your church building.


5th August 2021: The government in #Wales has announced that the nation will move to Alert Level 0 (Zero) on Saturday 7th August 2021 if conditions allow (there would need to be a significant worsening of the situation to prevent this move). This means that limits on numbers meeting indoors and social distancing requirements will be removed. It will be down to venues (including places of worship) to determine if these are still required by conducting a risk assessment. Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in most public indoor spaces (including places of worship), this will be kept under review. Singling is allowed with face coverings on. The Welsh government has said, "All those responsible for premises open to the public and workplaces must carry out a Covid risk assessment and continue to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus." The same limits are removed for lifecycle events, which should be risk assessed to maintain safety.

Refreshments will be possible, but sensible hygiene practices should be used to minimise handling and contact with food and crockery etc.

As mentioned previously, ensuring a good airflow through the building by opening doors and windows is an effective may to minimise the concentration of any Covid-19 virus in the air.

Official press release here: https://gov.wales/wales-moves-alert-level-zero 


26th July 2021: Changes from today for places of worship in #NorthernIreland mean that face coverings will no longer be mandated for indoor religious services during the service. Those attending must still wear a face covering when they enter and leave the church building. The NI government recommends that they still be worn throughout. From today it has been reported that social distancing will reduce from 2m to 1m in places where social distancing is still required, however official guidance just updated for places of worship still states 2m. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-places-worship

The use of face coverings is still recommended as a way of caring for the safety of others, as well as the usual hygiene measures. Ensuring good ventilation and air flow by opening windows and doors is an effective way of reducing the risk of transmission.


23rd July 2021: As many churches in #England approach the weekend, this will be their first services under the lifting of most restrictions. The government has finally updated its guidance for places of worship, and we would recommend all committee members read through this so that they are familiar with the current situation. As always, we need to do all that we can to keep safe and ensure that committee, congregation and visitors to our buildings know that we are holding their safety as a prime concern. Read the guidance for English places of worship here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship 


19th July 2021: #Scotland is now in Level 0. Key guidance change to the previous level from the Scottish government includes:

#England has moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap with most Covid-19 legal restrictions being lifted. Although the legal compulsion to wear face coverings has been lifted for most settings, churches may communicate to their visitors that they are advisory. Continuing to wear them, in the context of another major wave of infections, is a way protecting others. See posts below for information about communal singing.

Hands, face, space and fresh air remain important ways to protect everyone in our church communities, their families and also the wider communities that they live in.


14th July 2021: The government in #Wales has today announced changes to guidance, and the nation will move to Alert Level 1 on Saturday July 17th. From this date organised indoor events (capacity up to 1000) may take place (subject to risk assessment). Social distancing indoors of 2m is not set to be removed until August 7th 2021 (not to be confused with the removal of social distancing outdoors which ends on July 17th 2021). The wearing of masks in indoor settings (including places of worship) is still in force. 

Wales’ next change will be on August 7th 2021 when the nation is expected to move to Alert Level 0 if the public health situation permits. This will see a further lifting of restrictions, to be determined nearer the time, but the government has said, “Face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport at alert level zero from 7th August, with the exception of hospitality settings.” After this date, the requirement for indoors social distancing is expected to be removed.

You can read the media release here: https://gov.wales/next-steps-towards-future-fewer-covid-rules-first-minister 


14th July 2021: Communal singing guidance. 

Many have asked the question relating to coronavirus guidance and congregational singing. Here’s a round-up of current guidance…

#England – It is expected that places of worship can resume congregational singing from July 19th 2021 (as per Step 4 of the Roadmap)**. However, to date, no specific guidance has been updated for English places of worship since June 16th 2021. Until July 19th 2021, “Indoor communal singing should not take place.” See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july 

#Scotland - Places of worship can currently resume congregational singing. A risk assessment around this must be made. Scottish guidance states, “Where congregational singing is permitted, a risk assessment should be carried out to consider any mitigating measures that may be put in place. Individuals/households in congregations are advised to wear face coverings (see exceptions below that relates to performing or persons leading the worship) and observe 2 metre physical distancing between each participant/household and between participants/households and any others attending.” ** See: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/pages/individual-and-congregational-worship/

#Wales - Places of worship can currently resume congregational singing, but requires a risk assessment and appropriate mitigation. The Welsh government has said, “For this reason singing and the playing of instruments as part of worship practise can take place where a risk assessment and appropriate mitigations have been put in place. This would include both indoors and outdoors, as well as both performance and congregational singing. However, it is emphasised that extreme caution should be exercised, especially in relation to large groups indoors.” ** See: https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html

#NorthernIreland – The NI government has said, “Communal singing should be avoided if possible, even if social distancing is being observed and face coverings are used.” Further detail about what this means, and the risk mitigation required is contained here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-places-worship **

** #UK Places of worship: As can be seen from the above information, a common theme is that of risk assessment around communal singing, and mitigating actions. It is regarded as a risk because shouting or singing loudly can produce 20-times the mass of aerosol than speaking at a normal level of loudness.

Where/when communal singing is permitted, all churches can mitigate the risk by…

  • Ensuring good ventilation to improve air flow (opening as many doors and windows as possible) to reduce the volume of any infected particles in exhaled breath.
  • Reducing the frequency and volume of singing.
  • The use of face coverings.
  • Singing only in larger, well-ventilated spaces.
  • Social distancing (e.g. 2m in all directions), and no face to face positioning.
  • Avoiding singing in virus “hot spots.”
  • Following the current guidance for their home nation (see links above).

July 13th 2021: It was today announced that #Scotland will move to level 0 on 19th July 2021. The nation will be taking a gradual approach, and face masks will still be required "for some time to come." physical distancing in Level 0 will reduce to 1 metre in all indoor public settings. Up to 200 people will be able to gather at weddings and funerals. The First Minister said, "The Scottish Government understands the temptation to lift more restrictions more quickly. In our view, and in line with clinical advice and modelling, a gradual approach stands the best chance of minimising further health harm and loss of life" and also mentioned the need for good hygiene and ventilation indoors. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.scot/news/level-0-from-19-july/ 


July 13th 2021: The current policy of only distant healing being allowed to be conducted by SNU registered Healing Mediums is to stay in force for the time being. The exception being if the HM and the patient are from the same household or extended social bubble.

This policy will be reviewed by the NEC at its first post-AGM meeting being held on the 6th August 2021.
Whilst we know that most of the government restrictions are being removed in England from the 19th July 2021, we must continue to act in a responsible manner. Covid has not gone away, and at this time where new infections are on the increase we must be patient and only offer either distant or absent healing as our churches reopen.

July 12th 2021: Following the announcement today by the Prime Minister, and in parliament by the Secretary of State for Health, it has been confirmed that Step 4 of the roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions in #England will start on Monday July 19th 2021. The Secretary of State for Health said we should approach this next step with “caution and with personal responsibility.” While there will be further specific details released over the coming days, the following key points are relevant to places of worship.

From July 19th 2021:

  • Face coverings - While the requirement for face coverings by law has been lifted, the government says that it is “expected and recommended” that people should wear a face covering in crowded public settings (unless exempt.) The Spiritualists’ National Union advises churches to ask visitors to continue to wear face coverings to protect others, particularly in smaller and/or busier spaces. The Chief Medical Officer said they should be worn indoors, in any situation which is crowded, or where people are close together.
  • Social distancing - The requirement for social distancing has been removed. The government provides “cautious guidance” which means “minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.” The Spiritualists’ National Union advises churches to maintain a space between the speaker(s) of a service and the nearest or front row of seating. Churches may find that maintaining some space between seats will be of comfort to some individuals. Larger churches may wish to adopt a more spacious layout of seating wherever possible, again for the comfort of some individuals.
  • Rule of Six – The limit of group size that may attend together has been removed.
  • Lifecycle Events – Limits for numbers attending has been removed.

The virus is still prevalent in our communities, and the current wave of infections is expected to rise significantly. It is vital that we continue to make use of hands, space, face and fresh air as much as possible. Keeping doors and windows open is also important.

Government contact tracing systems remains in place, and churches should continue to record contact details of those who attend (or use a QR code) as previously advised.

As more information is released relating to places of worship, we anticipate being able to provide firm information relating to refreshments, food, singing and in particular how the changes affect healing within churches.

Churches who operate from rented premises (such as community centres) should contact the venue manager to discuss how the changes will affect their use of the building. 

#Wales – Further government review updates expected on July 14th 2021.

#Scotland - Scotland is due to move to Coronavirus level zero on 19th July 2021, with expectation that all major legal restrictions lifted on 9th August 2021. Government review update expected July 13th 2021.

#NorthernIreland - Further government review updates expected on July 22nd 2021, with some restrictions expected to ease on July 26th 2021. 


July 8th 2021: The government in #NorthernIreland has today announced a relaxation of several Covid restrictions from July 26th 2021 (indicative date subject to review on July 22nd 2021). Relevant to places of worship is that face coverings will no longer be required. Churches might note that some individuals will still wish to wear one, and other now well-known measures, such as opening windows / doors for good ventilation, hand sanitisation etc. will still be an important guard against transmission of the virus which is still present in all our communities. We may also see that some individuals are anxious about the removal of the requirement for face masks, and consideration to their needs, and maintaining a connection with them until they feel able to return is important. See here for current and changing guidance: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-and-guidance-what-they-mean-you 


To avoid confusion, older entries below have been greyed out, but left for your reference. Due to the constantly changing situation regarding the coronavirus, information and website links can quickly become out of date. Please always check for the latest information at the top of this page, and contact us if you need any help. A downloadable copy of the booklet, "Unlocking Our Future" which contains still useful information around re-opening a closed building, looking after yourself and your congregation, and assessing risk can be found here. Church safety signage can be found here.


June 14th 2021: In the government in #England's review of the roadmap, it has been confirmed that Step 4 of the Roadmap is "paused" for four weeks while the vaccination programme is accelerated following significant rise in the more transmissible Delta variant. The lifting of most existing restrictions is now expected to take place by July 19th 2021. Places of worship in England must continue under current guidelines. The government have also said that from June 21st 2021 "the 30-person limit will be lifted for weddings and wakes." This is subject to social distancing limitations on capacity, and mask wearing.

The government has said it is "confident" that this delay of 4 weeks should be all that is needed to allow a greater number of adults to be vaccinated, and limit the spread of the new Delta variant. For churches who are open, or due to open soon, we can play our part in ensuring that we move out of Step 3 restrictions by maintaining the safety measures that have ensured that our committees, congregations and volunteers have remained safe. #hands #face #space #freshair

Government information on today's release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vaccination-programme-accelerated-as-step-4-is-paused 

Government updates for #Wales #Scotland and #NorthernIreland are expected soon, starting next week, and will be reported on this page.


June 1st 2021: Churches in #Scotland (levels 0 -1) are now able to resume congregational singing under new guidance. Specifically, the guidance says, "As a result of a recent review, congregational singing can now also resume at levels 0 – 1 from Monday 31 May 2021." Read the full guidance for Scottish places of worship here > https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/pages/overview/ 


May 25th 2021: It has been widely reported in the media about an unannounced amendment to guidance affecting the following areas in #England - Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. The additional guidance for these areas, which has just come to wider attention, does not specifically mention places of worship (or any other named venue type). However, it does encourage additional vigilance in these areas, and encourages people to "meet outside rather than inside where possible." This is in response to an increased presence of the new variant of the coronavirus in these areas. Churches in the above areas should ensure they are fully observing their infection control measures, including social distancing at 2M and the wearing of masks. The government guidance can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#if-youre-in-an-area-where-the-new-covid-19-variant-is-spreading 

Further update: As widely reported in the media, the government has sought to clarify that the intention behind this guidance was to emphasise the importance of adhering to Covid-19 safety measures in the above areas, and is not intended to indicate a local lockdown scenario.


May 17th 2021: Here is a summary of changes from today.

#England: As previously stated, Step 3 comes into force. A wider range of indoor activities is now permissible. This should enable a wider range of activities to take place in places of worship, such as demonstrations and circles. Social distancing, face coverings and infection control measures should still be in place. National government guidance is here (updated May 14th 2021). Please maintain high standards of infection control.

#Scotland: Most of the nation’s mainland has now moved to Level 2, except Moray and Glasgow City Council areas which remain in Level 3 where existing restrictions should be observed. For Level 2 areas, a wider range of indoor activities is now permissible. This should enable a wider range of activities to take place in places of worship, such as demonstrations and circles. Social distancing, face coverings and infection control measures should still be in place. Please maintain high standards of infection control.

For services, the following is in place, which churches should take note of:

"Those responsible for places of worship must take measures to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that people are able to maintain a distance of 2 metres at all times from others who are not part of their household, and should limit the numbers attending services accordingly”

Places of worship are asked to maintain a temporary register of worshipper and staff/volunteer contact details for a period of 21 days for Test and Protect. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, in the event of an outbreak linked to a particular venue.

Guidance for places of worship in Scotland is here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship/

#Wales: Alert Level 2 is in place for all areas, and a wider range of indoor activities is permissible. This should enable a wider range of activities to take place in places of worship, such as demonstrations and circles. Social distancing, face coverings and infection control measures should still be in place. Please note, guidance states “Up to 30 people can take part in organised indoor activities” but may be less if the space does not have this capacity. While in the building, guidance states, “wherever possible we still advise that people avoid congregating with people they do not live with.” This means that socialising before and after activities / services is to be avoided. Please maintain high standards of infection control.

Useful information is available here: https://gov.wales/alert-level-2-frequently-asked-questions

#NorthenIreland: Changes to current circumstances are still expected on May 24th 2021 (this date may change).

#ADDITION: For all churches who are opening up a wider range of activities, it is useful to note the following...

  • The virus, now including a more contagious variant, is still present in our communities, and many adults still have not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated. Some will remain unvaccinated for various reasons. We still have a responsibility to protect all those who use our churches (committee, congregation and other visitors) and infection control measures (including social distancing, face coverings, hand santisation/washing and thorough cleaning) are still important.
  • A key feature of restrictions for indoor activities is the limitation of mingling between different households. Though the detail varies around the UK, this means that socialising/mingling before and after services/activities should not take place. Providing refreshments may encourage both mingling and the removal of face coverings, so now is not the appropriate time to reintroduce this.
  • As your congregations return, please bear in mind their pastoral care. Many will have experienced bereavement, loss, stress, loneliness and other difficult experiences during their time away from physical church. Others may be making contact for the first time, seeking the support of the church.
  • Your church building, if it has been stood empty for any period, will need a thorough check before it opens to the public again. You must also ensure an up to date risk assessment. Although published last year, there is still lots of useful information around this in the booklet issued to all churches: Unlocking Our Future.
  • Churches in all nations who operate in community centres and other hired premises should contact the building managers to explore reopening. 

May 11th 2021: Step 3 of the government roadmap in #England will begin on Monday May 17th 2021. Official guidelines confirm the following for places of worship in Step 3:

  • up to 6 people, or two households, can gather indoors
  • most significant life cycle events can resume, limited to no more than 30 people. This will include events such as weddings, wakes, private baptisms, naming ceremonies and stone setting ceremonies
  • wedding receptions can also proceed with up to 30 people

Further detail says, "You can go to places of worship for a service. When a service is taking place indoors you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain social distancing at all times, staying 2 metres apart from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble... You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship."

While there is no specific guidance relating to the unique activities of Spiritualist Churches, such as circles and demonstrations, many indoor venues and activities in England will be permitted to re-open and re-commence. These include hospitality venues, museums, conference centres, and organised exercise classes. While these in no way describe our churches or activities, they do indicate that our indoor activities may re-commence. However, social distancing and face coverings must still be used, along with other infection control measures. It is clear that we must all continue to be careful to protect our committees, congregation and wider community, with any activities adapted and actively managed to maintain Covid safety. Contact Healing is still not possible in Step 3.

In #Scotland the government has said, "If everyone continues to follow the rules, the First Minister said it is expected that all of Scotland will move to Level 2 on Monday 17 May." The nation is currently in Level 3 and places of worship are still covered by this guidance. UPDATE: The First Minister, as expected, made this announcement today. Similarly to England, there has been a relaxation of restrictions allowing some indoor venues to open in areas which move to Level 2 on May 17th 2021. These includes some hospitality and leisure venues, and parity with thier circumstances should mean that churches can now provide a wider range of activities, such as circles and demonstrations. Social distancing and face covering has not changed, so these and other infection control measures should be adhered to. Contact Healing is still not possible in Level 2. Please see the announcement from the First Minister which also contains detail about localities that will likely remain in Level 3 (Moray).

In #Wales Alert Level 3 is still in place. The next review of the coronavirus restrictions is due by May 13th 2021.

#NorthernIreland is anticipating changes to current guidelines on May 24th 2021.

For all places, mingling indoors is still a transmission risk, and churches should not provide unstructured social events, such as providing refreshments after a service or activity. This will assist visitors to your building observe the various limitations on household mixing.


May 10th 2021: The government in #England has confirmed in its review that Step 3 of the roadmap will go ahead on Monday May 17th 2021 as planned. Although details of what will be able to change in Step 3 have already been laid out (see earlier update below), further detail is expected to be announced, and will be updated by the Cabinet Office here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do Once clear, we will update you with implications relevant to places of worship.


May 6th 2021: Here's a round-up of the current guidelines / restrictions around funerals, wakes and weddings which may be useful to some church venues, and any relevant links to government websites.

#England On May 3rd 2021 the UK Government announced that the current legal limit of 30 mourners at funerals will be removed in England at Step 3 of the roadmap, to take place from May 17th 2021 at the earliest. Instead, the number of people who can attend a funeral will be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. 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   It also announced that at Step 3, weddings and wedding receptions can take place with up to 30 attendees, not including anyone working at the event.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships  

 #Scotland Since April 26th 2021 in Scotland, up to 50 people can attend a funeral service or post-funeral gathering such as a wake (in a regulated venue); and up to 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or reception (in a regulated venue). This is provided that the venue size and layout will permit the necessary physical distancing between households to be in place.  https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-funeral-services/     https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/pages/wedding-receptions-and-funeral-wakes/ 

#Wales Restrictions were further eased in Wales on 3 May.  The limit on numbers for weddings and funerals, in venues that are allowed to be open, is determined by the size of the venue.  Wedding receptions and wakes are allowed for up to 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors. https://gov.wales/guidance-funerals-covid-19 https://gov.wales/guidance-weddings-and-civil-partnerships-receptions-and-celebration-events-html

#NorthernIreland In Northern Ireland the number permitted to attend funerals, weddings and civil partnerships is to be informed by a risk assessment for the venue.  Receptions or post ceremony gatherings are not permitted.  An indicative date of May 24th has been set for the resumption of post ceremony receptions or functions. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you  


March 26th 2021: Government guidance round up for places of worship across the UK's four nations.

Guidance for places of worship in #England has been updated today. It relates mainly to the remainder of "step 1" which began on March 8th 2021 and will continue until at least April 12th 2021 when "step 2" is expected to begin. Like previous guidance, it contains information about infection control measures, singing, and lifecycle events. The government has said that it will give a week's notice about its intention to move to "step 2" - this announcement will be around April 15th 2021. You can read updated guidance here on the gov.uk website.

Also today, new places of worship guidance in #Scotland begins. You can read that here on the scot.gov website. Please note, this is the same page and information that we notified you about on March 23rd 2021, but for completeness is included in this round up.

No update for places of worship in #Wales since this March 5th 2021 update  to existing guidance.

For #NorthernIreland current guidance is due for an update on April 15th 2021. Information relating to places of worship is found in this general guidance on NIDirect.

Any updates, scheduled or otherwise, will be posted on this page as soon as we hear about them. As always, we're here to help if you have any questions or issues.


March 25th 2021: The Union has clarified the position regarding insurance claims for business interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with Mercury (insurance brokers). While the situation across insurers is not consistent, they have confirmed to us that churches with an insurance policy with Congregational are in a position to make a claim for loss caused by business interruption during the Covid-19 pandemic. If a church insured with Congregational wishes to make a business interruption claim, in the first instance they should email Mercury using [email protected] and advise them of their claim, and stating the period of loss. The start date of this period may be a little earlier than the date of the first lockdown if your church closed before this. Mercury have advised that this downloadable spreadsheet ("Church income information request") should be completed to collect details of your loss and financial situation. Time will be saved if it accompanies your initial email. 

For churches with an Ansvar insurance policy, we are advised that business interruption claims due to the Covid-19 pandemic are not covered in the wording of the policy.  We are awaiting final confirmation of this, and will report here once Ansvar have issued clarification.

Download the spreadsheet


March 23rd 2021: The government in #Scotland has today released a statement notifying Scottish places of worship which says, "People living in all parts of Scotland will be able to attend places of worship in gatherings of up to 50, where there is space for physical distancing, from Friday 26 March. [2021]" You can visit their website to read the statement: https://www.gov.scot/news/places-of-worship-in-level-4-can-reopen-from-friday/


March 7th 2021: Churches in #England will now have received a letter explaining the impact of the various steps of the government's roadmap out of lockdown on places of worship. As English churches are already permitted to open (limited to communal worship) the government (as of yet) has issued no new guidance alongside the roadmap. For this reason, we have had to judge at what stage various activities of a Spiritualist church are allowed at which step. For example, in Step 3, the government states that “Indoor entertainment”  is allowed. Whilst our church activities are in no way classed as entertainment, and instead are part of our religious way of life, we have made the judgement call that if indoor entertainment is possible, then church activities (which are also indoors, and like other venues involve people associating together) should also be possible. If the government issues any guidance, we will of course update you.


February 24th 2021: Here is a summary of the situation for places of worship across the UK. We will be contacting churches and centres shortly with the best information that we have access to at present to help them plan ahead. The situation across all nations of the UK is subject to review and change, so please check this page regularly, and look out for any communications from the SNU. Links to the government websites with current information are included.

#England Places of worship may currently open for communal worship only (i.e. Divine Services). The government's roadmap sets out provisional dates for the lifting of restrictions, subject to a number of improving conditions. This will incrementally enable greater activity in churches. Government information here.

#Scotland Currently places of worship are closed, but in a phased approach to lifting restrictions they will be able to open (with limited numbers) if they are in Level 4. No dates have been set for the phase which affects places of worship. Government information here.

#Wales Currently in Alert Level 4, Welsh places of worship may currently open for communal worship only (i.e. Divine Services), but whilst recognising the importance of worship, the Welsh government has advised against congregating wherever possible. Government information here.

#NorthernIreland Places of worship may currently open, under current regulations until April 1st 2021. These will be reviewed on March 18th 2021.  Government information here.


February 22nd 2021: Fuller details of the route out of lockdown in #England are to be released today. We will include any details that are relevant to places of worship on this page, so please check back. We are also monitoring any updates from the other devolved nations which may be released soon. Plans to ease lockdowns are likely to be at a slower pace than previously, and incremental.

Initial information given by the prime minister today about the "roadmap" out of lockdown indicates that community centres may open after April 12th 2021, which will affect some churches / Pioneer Centres. Weddings and lifecycle events will have restrictions lifted (with "appropriate mitigations") after June 21st 2021. All subject to review ahead of anticipated dates. Social distancing and face covering requirements at each stage of the roadmap have yet to be assessed. Once further detail is available, we will be in a better position to determine when other activities, such as committee meetings and development circles may be allowed. Further details, which we will now look at and report on, can be found here.

In #Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to outline plans for leaving lockdown in the next few days, but it is not yet clear how this will impact on places of worship.

In #Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that the requirement to stay at home may be eased within three weeks, again it is not yet clear how this will impact on places of worship.

#Northern Ireland - A review of current measures will take place on 18th March 2021.


January 20th 2021: Clarification for churches in #England. The guidance (issued Jan. 5th 2020) sates that “You can attend places of worship for a service.” This would include a Divine Service, which is open to the public. However, a demonstration of mediumship where a charge to enter is made would not fit within the definition or spirit of the guidance. Churches who wish to hold demonstrations can do so online, and still charge for this. If you need help in this area, please contact our Communications Director who will be happy to advise.


January 5th 2021: Download this PDF with a summary of restrictions for places of worship, funerals and weddings for the whole of the UK with government links. #England #Scotland #NorthernIreland #Wales


January 4th 2021: From 5th January 2021 mainland #Scotland will go into temporary lockdown, meaning that all places of worship must once again close for worship (but can open for the purposes of leading an act of worship that is broadcast or online only, conducting a marriage or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral.​​​​​) For more information about these "stay at home regulations" see here. This situation is to be reviewed weekly.

In #England a national lockdown order was issued today by the prime minster. As stated on this government document, places of worship may remain open for worship, but congregations must not mingle outside of their household / bubble, and maintain strict social distancing.

The new variant(s) of Covid-19 underline the importance of taking all measures to prevent transmission of the virus, and any churches permitted to open under national regulations must follow Covid-safe guidelines stringently to protect all who use the building.


December 21st 2020: As the UK faces more changes under Covid-19 regulations, here is a round up of the latest situation relating to places of worship across the nations of the UK and links to respective government websites.

#England: Places of worship may remain open for communal worship in all tiers in England, including the newly created Tier 4; For more information see here

#Wales: Places of worship may still open under Alert Level 4 (now in force). Further detail in this document.

#Northern Ireland: From Boxing day, places of worship remain permitted to open, but other activities in places of worship are limited to 15. See here.

#Scotland: The situation will change on Boxing Day, meaning a limit of 20 people (if social distancing permits) to indoor/outdoor worship. In force for 6 weeks before review. Learn more here


December 16th 2020: The government in #Wales has announced a move to the highest "Alert level 4" from December 28th 2020 for an initial period of 3 weeks. While this will further affect many areas of life, places of worship are still permitted to open, obviously with an expectation that Covid-safety is a priority. Details about the alert levels are here on gov.wales


November 30th 2020: Amendments to Covid-related restrictions in #Wales announced today for December 4th 2020 appear to apply to hospitality and indoor attractions, and not places of worship. The following page gives the current guidelines and restrictions for Welsh churches: https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html 


November 26th 2020: A list of tier categories has now been released for #England. See Gov.uk for the full list.

In #NorthernIreland a 2 week "circuit breaker" begins from Friday November 27th, which requires places of worship to close (except for funerals, civil partnerships and weddings). It has also been agreed in a later executive decision that they may open for "individual acts of worship" (private prayer).


November 24th 2020: Details of the new tier categories that will replace the lockdown restrictions in #England on December 2nd 2020 have been released. From this date places of worship can open.

Tier 1 (medium alert): Visitors cannot interact with more than 6 people ("Rule of 6").

Tiers 2 & 3 (high alert & very high alert): Visitors cannot interact with anyone outside household or support bubble.

A summary of these details, known as the "Winter Plan" are here on Gov.uk. Information about the impact on lifecycle events (i.e. weddings & funerals) are also on this page. Churches and centres in #England will be able to find out which tier they are in on November 26th 2020 when the Government releases the list. The Covid-19 App will also be updated on December 2nd 2020 to reflect the new tier categories.


November 20th 2020: Updates / round-up for current restrictions across the UK...

In #Scotland "protection levels" are shifting in some areas from November 20th 2020. As stated before, this may affect permitted numbers in a service at a place of worship. You can check these new protection levels here at gov.scot.

In #NorthernIreland new restrictions come into force on November 27th 2020 and state "Places of worship must close, except for funerals and weddings (limited to 25 people), or to broadcast an act of worship." Further information available at nidirect.gov.uk

In #Wales current restrictions are to continue for at least 2 weeks from November 20th 2020. You can read about these current "post-firebreak" restrictions for places of worship on the gov.wales website.

In #England current lockdown restrictions continue, "Places of worship [must close], apart from 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." See gov.uk for further information.

As always, if our churches and centres have any questions or support needs, they are encouraged to contact us.


November 4th 2020: Following parliamentary debate, the planned lockdown in #England is to go ahead from November 5th 2020, and is so far expected to continue until Wednesday December 2nd 2020. A release from the Cabinet Office confirms the closure of "Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals." This follows our earlier post below from October 31st 2020. Other devolved nations of the UK are subject to their own existing restrictions, with the current "fire-breaker" lockdown in #Wales still in force until Monday 9th November 2020.


October 31st 2020: In this evening's Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister outlined plans for a second national lockdown in #England. It is believed that places of worship will close for public worship and allowed to be open for private prayer only, so plans are likely to mean the closure of Spiritualist churches as in the first national lockdown. As plans are published in the coming week and finalised on Wednesday in Parliament, we should have a clearer understanding. Lockdown in England is due to begin on Thursday November 5th 2020 until early December 2020. English churches who are currently open should prepare for closure once more, ensuring their buildings are secured, with cash removed and banked, any perishable items (such as food) removed to avoid infestation, and prepared for any cold weather (frost guard setting on heating etc.) Once details are confirmed, we will report them on this page, and outline any impact (should there be one) on the devolved nations of the UK. As always, please contact the Union if you need any support - we are here to help our churches and centres.


October 23rd 2020: Churches in #Scotland may have questions about the impact of the introduction of the five "protection levels." All levels will still permit places of worship to remain open. Levels 0 to 3 have numbers restricted to 50 people. Level 4 (highest) sees this restricted to 20 people. You can find a summary in a document from the Scottish Government here (PDF download - see Annex 1 for a summary of the restrictions).


October 19th 2020: For all SNU churches who have not been able to hold their AGM yet, you may find the additional restrictions problematical for holding your meeting, and Church Rules (the church constitution approved by the Charity Commission) does not permit an online AGM. To avoid putting members and committee at risk, this year's AGM can be deferred until next year. A "double AGM" will be required and two sets of reports / accounts should be presented to members. Committees would stay in place until the next AGM. If your church wishes to do this, please let head office know so that dispensation can be properly granted. Full details here.


October 19th 2020: The government in #Wales has today announced new "fire-breaker" lockdown rules. This change comes into force at 6pm on Friday October 23rd until the start of Monday 9th November 2020. Welsh churches should note the following: "Places of worship will not be open to the public, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies or funerals, where people can attend at the invitation of the organiser." 

Read more on the gov.wales website


October 14th 2020: Following the introduction of the tier system by the government in #England - churches in this nation of the UK may find the following document useful which brings together information and links relating to places of worship. Services may still take place, but there are different regulations around "mingling" within the church. Please download this summary for the detail.


October 8th 2020: For our churches in #Scotland -  it does not appear that the new measures coming into force on October 9th 2020 will change any current regulations or guidance for places of worship. The new measures affect the whole of Scotland, with further restrictions in central belt areas. These temporary measures are likely to increase the existing pressure on your congregations and increase the need for pastoral support. Useful information (for all churches across our network) on managing wellbeing and mental health during this difficult time can be found here > https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus 

As always, please contact us for support if you have any questions or issues. #KeepConnected #StaySafe


September 25th 2020: The following statement in response to request for clarification from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)...

"What is the requirement on a Place of Worship in regard to QR codes for the purposes of Test and Trace? Places of Worship are exempt from both the legal requirement to collect this information and from a new requirement to display the Test and Trace app QR code. But we strongly encourage all of you to continue to cooperate with the Test and Trace programme and its requirements." #England #Wales

Government QR Code page here > https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster


September 24th 2020: To help clarify the current restrictions around places of worship, here is a brief summary of key points. Local restrictions may override any of these so please check if your church is within these areas. Links to each government guidance page (where available) is included. Please read them to gain an understanding of the full requirements, and remember that guidance can and does change on a regular basis.

#England

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing: at least 1m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions); the speaker and those assisting (chairperson) are exempt and may remove their face covering when speaking.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Collect contact details for "test and trace" purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • No singing.
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: No more than 30 attending.
  • Weddings: No more than 15 attending.

Places of worship guidance: HERE  | Face covering information: HERE

#Scotland

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, at least 2m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions);the speaker and those assisting (chairperson) are exempt and may remove their face covering when speaking.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Collect contact details for “test and protect” purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • No singing.
  • Services: No more than 50 attending.
  • Funerals: No more than 20 attending
  • Weddings: No more than 20 attending

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information: HERE

#Wales

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, 2m or at least 1m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions but no exemptions for the speaker / chairperson indicated to date).
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • If 2m distancing not possible, then collect contact details for “test trace protect” purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: No more than 30 attending
  • Weddings: No more than 30 attending

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information : HERE

#NorthernIreland

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, 2m or at least 1m if not possible.
  • Face coverings advised.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Advised as helpful to collect contact details for tracing purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • Avoid / minimise volume for singing.
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: Maximum number attending risk assessed by church.
  • Weddings: Maximum number attending risk assessed by church.

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information: HERE


September 18th 2020: Extract from a communication from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government: "We are writing today to update you on new restrictions that will come into place across the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands from Tuesday 22 September. We’d like to confirm that these new restrictions will not impact existing restrictions on communal worship or the use of places of worship but will limit social gathering further. Gatherings will be limited to households or support bubbles. 

Full information and a list of areas impacted is available on the press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/restrictions-for-more-areas-in-north-west-west-yorkshire-and-midlands-to-tackle-rising-infection-rates " #England


September 11th 2020: The Welsh Government has announced the nation's equivalent of the "Rule of 6" which will (like in England and Scotland) become law on Monday 14th September 2020. In documentation issued and press conferences so far there has been no indication that this will apply to places of worship, and that groups of up to 6 (from an extended household, not including children under 11) may attend a church under this law. #Wales

Read the announcement at gov.wales here. |  Additional info here.

Cymraeg. | Ac yma


September 10th 2020: The Scottish Government today has announced that social gatherings will face similar restrictions to England (see yesterday's announcement below / September 9th) but does have some differences. However, for clarity, this does not apply to Scottish places of worship. But as always, please maintain a Covid-19 secure environment. #Scotland

Read the announcement at gov.scot here.

September 9th 2020: From Monday September 14th the Government in England has announced that social gatherings of groups larger than six people will be illegal. For clarity, this new law does not apply to places of worship, which are exempt. They have stated about this law, "There will be a limited number of exemptions. COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups." Places of worship are still expected to be Covid-19 Secure, so please maintain all infection control measures. #England

Read the full update on Gov.uk here. 


August 25th 2020: Important information for SNU churches in #Scotland from OSCR.

Scottish Churches Charity accounts - The Union has sought guidance from OSCR in relation to the submission of accounts when it has not been possible to hold AGM’s because of the Pandemic. The guidance below is aimed at assisting our Scottish Churches though should you have and further queries please contact Head Office who will be pleased to assist you. OSCR has stated the following...

"Most of the reporting requirements to OSCR and the timescales for doing so are set in charity law. We cannot change these. However, we will change the way we respond to delays in reporting at this time.

We want to reassure charities that our approach to regulation during this time will be flexible and supportive.

We understand that for many charities it may be difficult to meet filing deadlines.  No charity will be penalised by us for this.  As the processes for updating our register are automated, there may be some cases where charities are marked as being late.  We are currently working to see what we can do to resolve that issue for those charities where the filing of accounts is likely to be affected by the pandemic. 

However, where you have all the information and are able to submit, please do so.  Your deadline is your 9 months after your financial year end date.  If you know that you are not going to be able to submit your accounts and annual return on time, then please tell us by email us at [email protected].

Wherever possible please scan and attach your accounts in OSCR Online. Any accounts posted to us will take longer to process whilst the office is closed.

At this time we are allowing charities to submit annual reports and accounts with typed signatures to help you meet your deadlines and finalise your accounts without physical or ‘wet’ signatures."


August 17th 2020: Following enquiries around temperature screening on entry to church buildings, the Union does not recommend this method as a reliable measure of infection control. Many organisations using this method have trained individuals and clinical grade equipment, and it still not a reliable indicator of a person having Covid-19, since they may be asymptomatic and still incubating the virus, or be using medication to lower temperature. Hand washing, face coverings, social distancing, effective cleaning and sanitisation, and a clear message to stay at home if symptomatic are still the best forms of infection control.


July 31st 2020: The Government has issued updated guidance on where face coverings have to be worn. This comes into place from August 8th 2020, and includes places of worship. The guidance also recommends that they should be worn now, ahead of this date. This guidance around face coverings can be found here. Only those leading a service (speaker) and those assisting (chair) are exempt from face coverings while speaking. #England


July 20th 2020: The Welsh Government have updated their guidance for places of worship in Wales, who can now follow other nations of the UK in reopening their churches. Our Welsh churches and centres should read the guidance issued here which contains details of what is expected, which includes social distancing of 2 metres. #Wales


July 15th 2020: A reminder from the SNU to assist churches and centres in their interpretation of the social distancing guidance relating to the "2 metres" distance and the "1 metre plus" distance. Our interpretation of "1 metre plus mitigation" is that it should be used only where 2 metres is not possible and that it is not part of an either/or option. Churches and centres should observe the 2 metres social distancing guidance, even when "1 metre plus" is both possible and preferable. This is to minimise the risk to committee and congregation and other visitors to the building.


July 14th 2020: The Scottish Government has released guidance for the safe use of places of worship in Scotland. Part of their Phase 3, it will permit from July 15th 2020 "pre-arranged or scheduled acts of worship, such as regular congregational services." (With social distancing measures). To see the full guidance, visit the gov.scot website page#Scotland

We are awaiting updated guidance from the Welsh Government confirming a possible date for congregational worship to resume. #Wales (now updated, see above - July 20th)


June 30th 2020: Printable posters to assist your preparations for reopening are now available to download at the foot of this page.

New specific guidance for places of worship opening after July 4th 2020 has now been released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (#England). You can read it here.


June 29th 2020: Today the government in Northern Ireland has stated (here) that "Religious services can resume in places of worship from Monday 29 June." #NorthernIreland


June 28th 2020: Below, as advised to participants, is the recording of the Zoom meeting for Presidents (or nominated representatives) of SNU Churches and Centres. It contains a discussion / Q&A of issues of concern to committees as they face the challenges of reopening their buildings after lockdown. It is posted here as an aide-memoire and as a catch-up for those unable to attend. In the rapidly changing environment, please be mindful of any changes to guidance going forward.

Video removed / contains now out of date information.


June 24th 2020: The Scottish government have today published new guidance which says that a date will be set for the opening of places of worship in Scotland in their July 9th 2020 review, stating this date is "unlikely to be before 23rd July." This will be part of their Phase 3 and they state that after the (yet to be decided) date, "Places of worship can re-open for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation with physical distancing and limited numbers." Updates from the Union for our Scottish churches and centres will be posted on this page. #Scotland [This guidance has been updated - see above July 14th 2020]

June 24th 2020: Following the government’s announcement that places of worship may re-open for services from July 4th 2020 (England only) we are currently examining official guidance released today to determine what this means in practice for SNU churches and centres. This will follow shortly, and be posted on this page. #England


June 16th 2020: A copy of the booklet "Unlocking Our Future" containing information and guidance for churches and centres re-opening is being mailed to every SNU Church President. They have been advised to discuss this with their committees, and to assist we have provided an electronic copy of the booklet below, and a text-only version (for those who wish to print / change the font size etc.) Presidents have also been provided with joining details for an online SNU Zoom meeting for them or a committee representative. This will take place soon, and we will discuss re-opening and answer any questions that arise.

[DOWNLOAD PDF OF "UNLOCKING OUR FUTURE"

[DOWNLOAD TEXT ONLY VERSION OF "UNLOCKING OUR FUTURE"]

Church Committee members / Pioneer Centre teams can contact us for support in the usual way.


Coronavirus Signage 

Click and Download our SNU branded signage to display in your Church or Centre, reminding your congregation to keep best practice regarding social distancing and hygiene.

Individual Posters include: 

Keep Your Distance 


Wash Your Hands


Clean & Disinfect


Face Masks


Cover Coughs & Sneezes


Avoid Handshakes


Sanitize Your Hands


To download them all in PDF format please click here