Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches

Whilst Government guidance has been revised to allow certain activities to take place in church buildings, it is still vital that the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are kept in place in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

The information on this page is regularly updated, so please check back to ensure you have the latest guidance. When major changes are made, we will publish update through the Church of England Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Please read the detailed guidance below to ensure all activities are conducted in a safe and hygienic way.

Key principles

The Government has introduced new regulations making it illegal for groups of more than six people to meet, unless covered by exemptions.

The intention is to limit the spread of the virus by minimising close physical contact as much as possible. When deciding whether to proceed with an activity, depending on local circumstances, please bear this principle in mind.

Areas covered by exemptions to the ‘rule of six’ include work, children’s activities and charitable services.

There is also an exemption that covers places of worship making it possible for more than six people to gather for acts of communal worship. However, it is not a blanket exemption for any activity in a place of worship.

The advice below is provided to assist local churches in their planning and decision making.

It is everyone’s responsibility to comply with the law. This guidance is designed to help those who have responsibility for organising gatherings, to ensure they comply with the law and protect parishioners and the public, especially those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

We acknowledge and share the sadness many are feeling at not being able to meet together as we used to do. We prayerfully and confidently look forward to the day when we can all meet together again.


What to do in the event of a local outbreak:

Advice on NHS Test and Trace
What are the first steps in the event of a local outbreak?

Prayer and worship

Can churches open for individual prayer?
Can churches hold services of worship?
Can Bible study groups or home groups now meet in person?
How does the 'rule of six' apply to choirs?
Praying and live streaming from church buildings
Copyright licence details for live streaming
What liturgical resources are available?
Can organists enter church buildings for organ practice and maintenance?
Can we have worship outside?
Can a visor be worn in a place of worship?
Can church bells be rung?
Can we still hold a Remembrance Sunday service?

Life events

Can funerals still go ahead?
Can weddings still go ahead?
Who can attend a wedding?
Can baptisms still go ahead?
Can we do full immersion baptisms?
Can ordinations still go ahead?
If a life cycle event does not traditionally happen during communal worship does that mean it is limited to 6 people attending?

Community Support

Can food banks remain open?
Can the building still be used for blood donations?
Can clergy, staff and volunteers enter church buildings to prepare for re-opening?
Do we need to get permission to put social distancing or hygiene measures into a church building?
What advice is there for keeping the church clean?

Finance and governance

How can my PCC hold a remote meeting?
How can we enable people to give financially to the church?
What can we do about our annual parish council meetings (APCM)?

Schools, nurseries and youth provision

Can members of clergy and foundation school governors enter a school building?
Can church buildings be used by schools as a place of worship or gathering?
Can nurseries and early years childcare provision operate in churches?
Can children and young people’s activities start again?


How should we complete a risk assessment ahead of re-opening our church building?
What guidance is in place for clergy, church workers and volunteers who are deemed to be at additional risk?
What advice is available if domestic abuse is suspected?
Should we still deliver printed communication?
What advice is there for activities in church halls?
Can churches, halls and other buildings hold non-worship events?
How can parishes plan ahead?
How does the 'rule of six' affect church services?
Are places of worship exempt from the 'rule of six'?
What should I do if a member of my congregation tests positive for COVID-19?




Further reading

The below Marking our communities resources have been prepared by The Liturgical Commission:

Digital resources

Father Andrew taking Holy Communion.

Access our digital resources including our weekly services

Church online

Prayer and worship resources

A page has been created containing prayers and intercessions for personal or group use, special prayers for use if it isn’t possible to meet in church and a simple form of prayer for the morning and evening, which can be downloaded, printed and shared with those remaining at home or who are unable to access the Internet.

A new Daily Hope phone line is now available, free of charge, to those unable to access online resources.

These resources are offered to help those who are struggling to find words at this difficult and stressful time and to enable Christians to worship in solidarity with one another even if it is not possible to gather in a church building.

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