The Scottish Government has reaffirmed their commitment that churches and other places of worship will be able to hold worship services from Friday, 26 March. It has also been confirmed that the travel restrictions currently in place will be lifted for travel to attend church.

The latest statement from the Scottish Government came after the First Minister commented on the significance of gathering to worship on the anniversary of the nationwide lockdown in March 2020. Nicola Sturgeon said: On this National Day of Reflection, I know that many of us will be thinking about people we have lost during the last year, whatever the cause of their death. 

It is a natural human response when someone dies to gather with others, to mourn our loss and to celebrate their life. The fact that this shared ritual has not been possible has been an additional source of grief for many during this most difficult of years.

The return of collective worship in greater numbers is an important change that I hope will be especially welcomed as we head towards important religious festivals over the next few weeks.”


The new guidance

After Friday, 26 March, people in all parts of Scotland will be able to attend places of worship for gatherings of up to 50. This cap of 50 people does depend on the size of the building and space available to physically distance.

In addition, the travel ban currently in place, which prohibits people from travelling beyond their council boundaries for all but essential reasons, will feature an exemption for travelling to attend your normal place of worship from Friday, 26 March. This is a shift away from the rules under the previous lockdown, where only church staff could travel to facilitate church services under the highest level 4 restrictions.

This new travel exemption comes as part of new updated guidance for places of worship set to be released by the Scottish Government before 26 March.

You can find full details of the current lockdown regulations in our COVID-19 church hub. Please see the Scottish Government website for the Scottish Government statement on the new guidance and the current places of worship guidance.