- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On Saturday 21 November 2020 I signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the safe re-opening of churches for worship as soon as possible, and at least in time for Christmas. The current lockdown restrictions in England, which are due to expire on 2 December 2020, ban religious services from taking place.
The letter asks the Prime Minster to ensure that whatever measures are introduced next, people in England should not be stopped from attending religious services again. It has been signed by 48 other MPs and 27 Peers. You can read the letter in full below:
“Dear Prime Minister
At this time of year, people would usually be making plans for Christmas.
This year’s plans have been disrupted by a virus that has already brought so much pain and frustration to people’s lives.
Something that would bring enormous comfort and joy to millions of Christians in this country is the certainty of being able to go to church this Christmas.
The current national measures in England – which ban religious services – are due to expire on 2 December. As the Government considers its next steps in the fight against this virus, we ask that churches across England are allowed to open for services as soon as possible, and at least in time for Christmas.
Churches have shown they are capable of introducing social distancing and following Government guidance. As you know, your Chief Medical Officer has said there is no evidence of places of worship contributing to the spread of the virus.
Closing places of worship has caused hardship to people across the country. These most recent restrictions fall during the festival of Diwali and the First Sunday of Advent – occasions which would usually be marked by religious services.
We all want to see the rates of coronavirus infections brought down. But it’s essential that measures to control the virus are based on evidence and respect people’s fundamental freedoms, including the right to worship in accordance with their beliefs.
Whatever replaces the current restrictions in England from 3 December – whether that is new national measures or a local approach – we must never again stop people from attending religious services.
You have previously said you want to see churches opened for services again soon. We hope you will provide a guarantee that all people across England – regardless of where they live – will be able to go to church this Christmas.
The Christmas message of hope is needed more than ever in a year that has brought dark days for so many people.
The Lord Alderdice
The Baroness McIntosh of Pickering