The UK government issued new health guidelines as churches prepare to reopen on July 4.
According to the guidelines, singing and playing of certain instruments are discouraged during worship services to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Experts claimed that exhalation during singing or playing woodwind and brass instruments spreads droplets further, increasing the risk of transmission of COVID-19, reports Premier Christian News.
It will take some while for our churches to work through the practical implications of the reopening of our buildings for public worship. —Rt Revd Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham
The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government also suggests online giving to prevent hand contact among parishioners. If the church has no online option, cash can be kept in a container and would remain untouched for a few days.
Churches are advised to implement the current guidance but the Church of England and the Royal School of Church Music asked the government to allow music inside houses of worship once it is safe to do so, according to SurreyLive.
“We are encouraging the Government to be alert to the consequences of our choirs’ continued silence – and to take a proactive approach to allowing singing to return to our churches and cathedrals as soon as it is possible to do so safely,” said Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London. “This way we can safeguard our choral tradition which many believe to be the finest in the world.”
Royal School of Church Music director Hugh Morris said, “The ministry of music is such a vital part of the life of the church, and choral music is a rich part of the tapestry of worship.”
Church leaders are requested to practice health protocols and create a safe environment for their members. The government guidance is provided to ensure all church activities are ‘Covid secure.’ While not legally prohibiting certain practices, the UK government urges churches to study and consider the pointers provided in the guidelines.
However, despite the go signal to reopen in a few days, many churches are expected to remain close.
Rt Revd Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said, “It will take some while for our churches to work through the practical implications of the reopening of our buildings for public worship. So this will happen over a period of time, not in a sudden rush.”
In an interview with Church Times, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, warned that people should remain cautious. He advised clerics to prioritize public safety. “Church buildings that do reopen…should only do so if all the necessary social-distancing and hygiene measures are adopted. Those churches which feel this cannot be done safely should not feel pressured to open.”
In Devon, church leaders are advised to continue with virtual worship services since many still prefer to worship online.