In response to rising coronavirus case numbers and pressure on hospitals as more people need treatment than at any time during spring 2020, the governments of the UK have announced further measures to limit the spread of the virus. 

Unlike in 2020 the measures affect churches differently in different parts of the UK. Wales and Northern Ireland entered lockdowns in December which permitted churches to remain open, while both Scotland and England announced new lockdowns on 4 January. In mainland Scotland churches are required to close their buildings, whereas in England they may remain open for worship services. In all nations churches can continue to open for essential food provision and other necessary charitable work, as well as for the filming and broadcasting of worship services.


The UK government has announced that churches in England may meet together for public worship services in their building during the new lockdown. Many churches may consider it wisest to exclusively meet online during this period to ensure that their meetings are not place where the virus spreads. 

The restrictions on other activities such as children’s ministry will provide churches with limited options on how they gather. The previous provision for parent and child groups which were allowed in all areas has been removed so no supervised activities for children at church are permitted.


The Scottish government have announced that under the lockdown for mainland Scotland scheduled until the end of January at the earliest, places of worship must close. Churches may only open for the recording or streaming of worship services or the provision of vital services. Funerals with limited numbers and very small weddings may also take place.


Places of worship in Wales remain open under Level 4 restrictions, but many are choosing to broadcast meetings online rather than meet face to face at present. First Minister, Mark Drakeford is due to give an update on current regulations on Friday 8 January.

Northern Ireland

Churches in Northern Ireland are permitted to remain open for worship services under the lockdown which began on Boxing Day. However, churches have been asked to voluntarily move all gatherings online until 6 February. The four largest denominations, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, The Church of Ireland, Methodist Church and the Catholic Church, along with Elim churches in Northern Ireland, have agreed to this request. Further details for churches in Northern Ireland are available at https://www.reimaginingfaith.c…