The Government has been working closely with all major faith groups on a wide variety of issues relating to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this engagement will continue.
The Faith Minister has held meetings with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders and representatives since the outbreak. Officials also maintain regular contact with Faith leaders across all major faiths, ensuring the Government is responding to issues relating to COVID-19 as they arise.
This engagement will continue at both ministerial and official level as the Government looks to lift restrictions, as outlined in the recovery strategy – “Our Plan to Rebuild”, which was launched on 11 May can be found (attached) here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884760/Our_plan_to_rebuild_The_UK_Government_s_COVID-19_recovery_strategy.pdf. As the document makes clear in Step 3, the Government’s ambition is to open places of worship; the current assumption is that this Step will be no earlier than 4 July.
As part of the recovery strategy, the Government has launched a Taskforce to look at the possible re-opening of places of worship. The Taskforce will be led by the Secretary of State for Communities, or the Faith Minister, and comprise of representatives from the country’s major faiths. The aim of the Taskforce is to work towards the safe reopening of places of worship, including for private devotions, services and ceremonies like funerals and weddings. It will address the specific issues that places of worship face in the course of reopening safely.
Places of worship are essential in bringing our communities together, which is why we want to reopen them as soon as we can. However, we will not compromise the safety of those who visit and work at our places of worship. The Government’s priority is to protect the public and save lives. We are committed to ensuring our faith communities have access to the latest public health advice, and to support them to adapt their practices in line with the Government’s COVID-19 guidance.