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Congregational singing discouraged but all aspects of church life permitted inside place of worship

New guidelines set out for churches as they prepare to reopen for public worship have suggested that congregational singing or chanting is strongly advised against.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued new guidance on Monday, ahead of 4th July when churches are permitted to open their doors for gatherings once more.

It has been working with Public Health England, which has been carrying out tests on the impact singing has on the spread of the coronavirus.

It's claimed the projection of the voice directly affects the distribution of particles.

This, however, much like other guidance issued in the document, it isn't officially prohibited. The guidance states that there is a difference between what the church should do and must do.

Where the guidance states that activity must take place, it's because it's a requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, and therefore is a requirement in law.

Where the guidance states that activity should take place, it is not a legal requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. However, it is strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice being given to reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

Speaking in the House of Commons last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "we will ask people to follow guidance on social contact, instead of legislation" but urged the public to be vigilant.

It's unknown where the liability lies, should a spread of coronavirus emerge from a place of worship, so all church leaders are being urged to follow the guidelines.

Other suggestions in the document suggest that cash should not pass through hands so online giving should be encouraged, however, if there is no option - cash given should be kept in a container and not touched for several days.

Other aspects of church life such as youth groups and Sunday schools are permitted but not necessarily advisable. Church leaders are encouraged to carry out risk assessments to ensure all activities are 'COVID secure'.

Those wishing to take services outdoors are encouraged to take extra precautions on security.

Though churches have been given the freedom to reopen from 4th July, it's expected many won't. The Evangelical Alliance says the conversations it's had with members is that there won't be a rush.

Some have suggested 'hybrid church' may be the future with options to watch online and in-person for the foreseeable future.

Listen to Premier's interview with Danny Webster, spokesman for the UK Evangelical Alliance:

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