Communal Prayer Could Be Allowed in U.K. in July

LONDON -
A man is seen wearing a protective face mask on a London bus, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Wednesday. (Reuters/Henry Nicholls)

Communal prayer in England could take place from July 4 at the earliest, a government minister said Wednesday.

It was announced at the weekend that places of worship can open for private prayer from this coming Monday, June 15, after being closed to the public in March as part of the coronavirus lockdown.

“Thank you to all the faith leaders who are working to ensure this is done safely,” said Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

On Tuesday, Faith Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh said, “The earliest possible moment [for communal prayer] would be at [lockdown] step three, which is July 4.”

Greenhalgh said that the government recognized how religious groups differ in how important collective prayer is and that discussions with faith leaders have been “very difficult” because of all the measures that need to be considered.

He said weddings and funerals were also likely to take precedence over collective services.