No singing or chanting but numbers not limited in new rules for churches

There will be no cap placed on the number of people attending places of worship, although singing and chanting will not be allowed, MPs have heard.

Conservative MP Andrew Selous, in his role as the Church of England’s representative in the Commons, said that weddings however will be restricted to a maximum of 30 attendees.

He said: “Weddings can indeed now take place from July 4 but only with a maximum of 30 people and this is a huge relief to many couples throughout the country.

“For church services, there is no maximum number within a place of worship as long as the premises comply with Covid secure guidelines.”

Mr Selous added: “Singing and chanting are not allowed even at a distance due to the additional risk of infection and woodwind and brass instruments should not be used, but that does still leave many other instruments.”

People will still need to maintain social distancing of at least one metre with mitigation including masks, screens and hand-cleaning stations.

The Church of England says sharing of the peace – where the congregation shake hands – will not be allowed.

But it says Holy Communion – the sharing of bread – will be carried out with enhanced hand washing and social distancing.

Sharing wine will not be allowed.

The church says: “At present, Communion should be administered in one kind only with no sharing of the common cup. The president alone should always take the wine, consuming all that has been consecrated; other communicants should receive the bread only, in the hand. As the Liturgical and Faith and Order Commissions have made clear, this is still ‘complete communion’. “

Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said: “The last three months have been an extraordinary time – the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.

“We will not be returning to normality overnight – this is the next step on a journey. We’ve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.”

She added: “There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.”

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