No ban on Wales and NI church worship in post-Christmas lockdown

Churches will remain open when tighter Covid-19 restrictions are introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland immediately after Christmas.

Institute supporters were among those who wrote to the Welsh Government and NI Executive to oppose the decision to shut places of worship during their recent country-wide lockdowns.

In November, The Christian Institute called on the UK Government not to close churches in England again, and challenged the Scottish Government over arbitrary limits on numbers of worshippers imposed on churches there.

Churches open

When Wales enters alert level four on 28 December, churches will be allowed to keep their buildings open for worship, weddings and funerals, as long as Government guidelines are observed.

New measures will be introduced in Northern Ireland on 26 December, but again places of worship can continue to open under “strict conditions” and weddings and funerals may also take place if rules are followed.

In Scotland, a cap of 50 people remains in place for indoor church services at Levels 1-3. This figure is reduced to just 20 people at the highest level. Weddings and funerals are also allowed under certain conditions.

Welcome news

The Christian Institute’s Wales Officer, Gareth Edwards, and its Northern Ireland Officer, Callum Webster, welcomed the news.

Mr Edwards said: “I’m very grateful the Government has not closed churches again, and thankful to all who contacted Members of the Senedd to express how essential it is that Christians are allowed to continue their public worship of God”.

Mr Webster agreed, adding: “Thank you to everyone who contacted their MLAs. At a time of pandemic, Christians should be able to meet together to pray for our nation and proclaim the Gospel with its message of hope.”


In October, more than 1,700 church leaders signed a letter challenging the Government’s decision to close churches for public worship in England.

Pastor Dave Gobbett, who leads Highfields Church in Cardiff, co-wrote the letter calling on the Prime Minister to “recognise the essential nature of Christian worship, and therefore amend the proposed legislation to permit churches to carry on meeting together”.

Speaking to BBC Wales recently, Gobbett said: “The letter was a call to the Government to remember the spiritual aspect to life.

“If we believe that garden centres and pubs and off-licences, supermarkets, hospitals are essential services, then local churches are surely essential services.”

Also see:


Church leaders call for U-turn on church service ban

‘Keep churches open’, CI urges Govt

UK religious freedom constraints during COVID outbreak ‘among worst in Europe’

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