Scots churches to reopen for worship - but hymns still banned

Scots congregations will be able to return to church and other places of worship for religious services from next Wednesday - but singing hymns remains banned.

St Cuthbert's Church has been allowing three people to be praying at once with standalone chairs set up two metres apart to assist social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak
St Cuthbert's Church has been allowing three people to be praying at once with standalone chairs set up two metres apart to assist social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak

Nicola Sturgeon has also announced that she will ease the current restrictions in place for funerals and weddings, as she confirmed that Scotland will move to phase 3 of Coronavirus lockdown exit.

The changes for churches and funerals had been earmarked for later in phase 3, but the First Minister told MSPs these can be undertaken safely next week, provided safeguards are in place.

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"After careful consideration, we have decided that from 15 July, places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation," Ms Sturgeon said today.

Numbers will be remain limited with 2 metres physical distancing and contact details collected of these attending.

But Ms Sturgeon added: " Unfortunately, given what we know of transmission risks, singing and chanting will also be restricted.

"Detailed guidance is currently being finalised in consultation with our faith communities, but I hope today’s announcement will be welcomed by all those for whom faith and worship is important and a source of comfort."

Funerals have been restricted to a household member of the person who has died or close family members - or friends if no close family members are attending the funeral.

Ms Sturgeon said that the restrictions will now be eased for services and ceremonies for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships. But numbers will again remain restricted and physical distancing will be required.

"I must stress that this change applies only to services. Associated gatherings – such as wakes or receptions - must continue to follow the limits on household gatherings and hospitality,” the First Minister added.

I am well aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance at funerals in these last few months have been particularly hard to bear and I am grateful to everyone who has complied, in what I know will have been heartbreaking circumstances."

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