Rochdale MP challenges government on place of worship closures
Date published: 19 November 2020
Rochdale Parish Church of St Chad's
Tony Lloyd MP has challenged the government on its decision to close places of worship during the second lockdown, and has called for ministers to work with faith leaders to reach a better arrangement.
Since 5 November, places of worship have been restricted to opening for individual prayer for a person or single household. This does not cover attendance for led prayers or led services and communal worship must not take place.
The Rochdale MP said: "Places of worship across Rochdale have worked hard to ensure people can worship whilst adhering to social distancing rules.
"Religion plays a vital role in many people's lives, as well as a key role in the mental and physical wellbeing of those that attend.
"Throughout the pandemic, religious groups and organisations in Rochdale have helped our communities and they deserve our gratitude and support."
The communal nature of places like churches and mosques makes them vulnerable to spreading Covid-19, says the government.
However, places of worship are also allowed to open for other reasons, such as funerals, commemorative events celebrating the life of someone who has died, broadcasting or filming an act of worship, essential voluntary and public services, and support groups.
Faith leaders from different religious groups, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, have challenged the government on this decision stating there is 'no scientific rationale' for suspension of public worship where it is 'compliant with the guidance that we have worked jointly with the government to establish.'
Mr Lloyd said: "To ban public worship without publishing the evidence shows a lack of appreciation for the importance of places of worship to our communities, and the government must engage with faith leaders to reach a better arrangement during this second lockdown."
Tony Lloyd is one of 30 cross-party Members of Parliament to co-sign a Parliamentary motion calling on the government to publish the evidence that the banning of communal worship is an effective part of controlling the Covid-19 rate of infection.
The motion raises concern on 'the impact on mental health and personal wellbeing' of the closure of places of worship during the second lockdown, and 'urges the government to urgently engage with faith leaders to reach a better arrangement for the period of the new national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.'
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