Limits on attending weddings, funerals and other acts of worship

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Read the latest advice from the United Reformed Church about the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other acts of worship in England, Scotland and Wales.

England

Under new regulations announced on September 22 for England, weddings are to be limited to a maximum of 15 people present from Monday 28 September 2020. If the church can hold fewer than 15 people socially distanced, then the lower limit applies.

There has been some confusion as to whether the 15 (or 30 people until 28 September) includes the Minister and others present to facilitate the marriage. Although the guidance for the safe use of places of worship says, “anyone working is not included as part of the 30 person limit” there is no matching provision in the current Statutory Instrument which puts the regulations into law, or any definition of what it means for a person to be “working”.

As the legislation in force does not provide any exemption for Minister, organist, stewards, or Authorised Person or Registrar and these people must be included in the total number allowable.

  • For funerals the limit of those attending remains at 30 including the Minister and everyone else present.

  • For regular acts of communal worship, the limit on those attending is determined by the capacity of the building/venue whilst people are socially distanced.

  • For all other special acts of worship (including baptisms if not carried out during communal worship, wedding blessings, renewal of vows, amongst others) from September 28 a maximum of 6 people are allowed, regardless of the capacity of the building.

Scotland

The numbers allowed to attend have not changed since September 14.

  • At weddings there may be up to 20 people including third-party suppliers such as a photographer but the Minster, venue staff and third-party catering staff are not included in the headcount.

  • At funerals the same limits apply as for weddings.

  • At regular acts of communal worship, 50 people may attend, including children, or 200 if the worship takes place outdoors.

Wales

In a briefing on 19 October, the First Minister announced that Wales will be on a ’Firebreak’ national lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November. During that period, all places of worship must remain closed, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies, funerals and essential help to the public (as in the previous lockdown). This changed situation will affect three Sundays: 25 October, 1 and 8 November.

For more information visit the Coronavirus circuit break: frequently asked questions page on the Welsh Government website.

19 October 2020

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