Churches to remain open at Christmas

First Minister Nichola Sturgeon announced fresh Covid restrictions today to combat the Omicron variant, but said that churches would remain open at Christmas with appropriate mitigations.

In their guidance for safe use of places of worship, the Scottish Government said that there are no limits on the number of people who can attend places of worship.

Unless exempt, face coverings are required in churches, including during singing as part of a congregation.

Choirs and bands, however, can perform without a face covering with the appropriate social distancing.

The First Minister stated that her ‘hardest request today was of the general public’.

“I want to be clear: I am not asking anyone to cancel Christmas, but in the run-up to, and in the immediate aftermath of, Christmas, I am asking everyone to reduce as far as possible and to a minimum the contact we have with people in other households,” she said.

“We are asking everyone, and we will issue strong guidance to this effect, to cut down as far as possible the number of people outside our own households that we are interacting with just now.

“This will help break transmission chains.

“However, if you do plan on socialising [before and after Christmas] either at home or in in-door public places, we are asking that you limit the number of households represented in your group to a maximum of three.”

The Government is not yet placing legal restrictions on household gatherings at Christmas.

Following today’s update, and without further changes, present restrictions will allow for Christmas celebrations in Church and at home to go ahead this year.

Sir Harry Burns, the former Chief Medical Officer, who chaired the Catholic Church’s Covid Infection Committee that looked into how to make churches safe said: “As far as I know there’s been no outbreak, no cluster of Covid cases associated with going to church.

“As long as masks continue to be worn, the Church is well ventilated and hand sanitiser is used we’re okay.

“I know a lot of churches are still sanitising pews, but we touch those with our hands, so sanitising the hands is the important bit.”

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