Churches in some areas of Scotland have been advised to reduce their number of on-site worshippers to just 20 people.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that eleven council areas would be subject to Tier 4 restrictions from Friday, saying infection rates there remain “stubbornly and worryingly high”.
Around 2.3 million live in the affected areas, where visiting people indoors will be banned, hospitality and close-quarter businesses will be shut, travel between council areas in the same tier will be banned, and guidance says the number of people allowed in a church should be reduced from 50 to 20.
The restrictions on how people are accommodated within church buildings remain unchanged. Holyrood guidance reminds church leaders to limit the number of people permitted to enter at any one time, and to maintain adequate social distancing between households.
While churches in Tiers 0-1 may hold worship services outside for up to 200 people, outdoor events are not permitted in Tiers 2 and above.
The rules will last for at least three weeks, ending on 11 December, and the cap on church attendance will be the same across all Tier 4 areas, regardless of capacity.
The guidance tells Church leaders they must have regard to the following advice:
- “Places of worship should not admit more than 50 people in total, regardless of venue size and usual capacity for levels 0-3 and no more than 20 people at level 4”;
- Churches may open for “congregational services, including pre-arranged or scheduled acts of worship and communal prayer,” and;
- Church leaders “must take the contents of this guidance into consideration”.