The Government's announcement that church buildings can reopen for public worship from 4 July has been welcomed by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave.
He said: "This is a significant step on the journey out of lockdown for our churches which I welcome. For many it will bring a sense of relief – that they will again be able to worship together in the building they call ‘home’, or get married in church.
“For others, there may be nervousness due to the continued, and real, threat of coronavirus which has had such a devastating impact in our communities. That is why there will be no pressure for churches to open their buildings on 4 July or until they are ready. Each minister or church will want to take into account their local circumstances in deciding how and when to respond.
“When buildings do re-open, it will not be ‘church as normal’ due to the necessary restrictions that will remain in place. More detailed guidance will be available soon for churches to ensure when people do worship together again they can do safely. The work of local churches has continued outside of their buildings in new and creative ways during lockdown, including online; this will continue in many places even as people begin to gather again in buildings. It will also be wonderful to welcome people into church buildings who have encountered church – some maybe for the first time – online, over the phone or in their community during lockdown.”
A statement from the national Church of England is here.