Synagogues can stay open even in strictest tier of new lockdown system
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Synagogues can stay open even in strictest tier of new lockdown system

Shuls, churches, temples and mosques will be able to hold services if the government imposes a ban on household mixing

Mill Hill United synagogue under Covid restrictions, including social distancing and masks (Credit: Marc Morris)
Mill Hill United synagogue under Covid restrictions, including social distancing and masks (Credit: Marc Morris)

Synagogues and other places of worship will stay open even under the most stringent coronavirus restrictions, the UK Government has said, as it outlined its new three-tier lockdown system on Monday.

The triple-layer structure in England, under which Tier 3 zones impose the most limits where infection rates are highest, was unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week after faith groups across the country lobbied for flexibility.

Synagogues as well as churches, temples and mosques, had already made a series of adjustments to facilitate Covid-secure in-person worship, including social-distancing, reduced capacities, online bookings, and a ban of congregations singing.

Despite this week’s explanation that Tier 3 restrictions ban the mixing of households, and weddings still limited to 15 people, the Government said prayer services could still take place, though suggested these be held outdoors if possible.

Authorities now have the statutory power to fine people who do not adhere to the restrictions, up to £6,400 for repeat offenders, but allowed worshippers to meet inside at a distance of two metres, asking that they wear masks to do so.

Last week the Government issued special guidance to Jews ahead of the High Holy Days, advising for instance that no more than six people should be in a garden or outdoor space together for Sukkot, unless they are members of the same household.

Steven Wilson, Chief Executive, United Synagogue, said: “We are relieved that the government recognises the important role places of worship have in British society. Religious services, provided they are held in Covid-secure venues, are important for people’s spiritual and mental health and offer a sense of community which can be reassuring at this challenging time. United Synagogue communities have enjoyed a wonderful set of services and programmes over the High Holy Days and Succot despite the most difficult of circumstances and I want to place on record my thanks to our extraordinary honorary officers, volunteers, Rabbis, Rebbetzens and professional teams who worked night and day to make it possible.”

read more:
comments