It’s official. As of midnight November 5th, the UK is entering a strict second lockdown, absolutely prohibiting the physical gathering of churches for at least 4 weeks, whether indoors or outdoors, in order to curb their COVID cases.
The UK currently has a million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, 45,000 deaths, and averaging about 20,000 new cases a day. There are currently over 10,000 patients hospitalized and nearly 1000 on ventilators. On a population-adjusted level, they are doing worse than the United States is.
We wrote to you last week about how the police were given the power to enter people’s homes if they thought too many people were gathering, or if they thought that more than one authorized households were meeting together. Now, as the UK deals with elevated COVID-19 cases, they’re shutting things down.
Apart from closing all businesses other than “essential services” and prohibiting people to meet friends and family, they’re shutting down churches as well for the next month, and possibly longer. Failure to comply will result in eye-watering fines and could include jail time. According to the posted edict:
Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend.
Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.
Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
To broadcast acts of worship
Formal childcare or where part of a school
Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
Other exempted activities such as some support groups
In a letter signed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, these Catholic officials questioned the government’s decision to shut down their churches, writing:
Our communities have done a great deal to make our churches safe places in which all have been able to gather in supervised and disciplined ways. It is thus a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship.
Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus. We ask the government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.
With Europe as a whole shutting down again in a second wave, UK is not the first, nor will they be the last. Pray for our brothers and sisters across the sea.