On Tuesday, 9 March Nicola Sturgeon announced that church worship gatherings will be permitted to resume from Friday, 26 March. From this date, provided COVID-19 precautions are in place, communal worship can resume with a limit of up to 50 people at each gathering. This is dependent on case numbers and will be reviewed nearer the time.

This is very positive news. We welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition that the church being is integral to the health and wellbeing of the country and the priority given to places of worship as society re-opens. This reflects previous commitments made in January and we are glad that the Scottish Government has followed through on this. It was also notable to hear the first minister’s comment on the quite exceptional efforts made by faith groups to reach out to their communities’, especially in light of our Stories of Hope report. This report outlined the work of the church in Scotland throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, revealing that the church had carried out over 200,000 individual acts of service. This is an important reminder that, while our buildings may not be open for gatherings, the church can never truly be closed. 

It should come as no surprise that we passionately agree with the first minister that the church greatly improves quality of life for many people, is a place where they can draw strength, comfort and inspiration from acts of collective worship and therefore has an essential role in Scottish communities as we exit this latest lockdown. We still wish the Scottish Government had not mandated closure and have advocated strongly for church gatherings to be allowed as soon as possible it is good to see the results of these conversations coming to fruition. 


General updates

The main theme of the latest announcement was wellbeing, particularly concerning children. 12-to-17-year-old’s will now be allowed to see four friends from four different households and outdoor contact sports involving up to 15 people will be allowed to resume. The changes also allow up to four adults from two households to socialize outdoors, including in back gardens.

Future updates

A more detailed update of further restrictions set to be lifted, including those regarding travel restrictions, will be outlined in next week’s announcement. All of this is dependent on the case numbers and as long as there is continued success in the vaccination program and no further deterioration in terms of case numbers, the Scottish Government will seek to accelerate the lifting of other restrictions.

Please continue to pray for the team as we engage with the Scottish Government throughout this pandemic, developing relationships with civil servants and MSP’s, advocating the importance of the church and the difference Jesus makes to society.