Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: guidance for the safe use of places of worship

Guidance to help places of worship safely re-open for permitted purposes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: guidance for the safe use of places of worship


We recognise the important role that places of worship play in providing spiritual leadership to many people, and acknowledge the outstanding contribution of Scotland’s faith communities during these unprecedented times.

Places of worship are now able to open for a number of permitted purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • individual prayer or contemplation
  • congregational services, including pre-arranged or scheduled acts of worship and communal prayer
  • broadcasting acts of worship
  • funeral services (separate guidance is available on this)
  • marriage ceremonies and, where celebrants in a faith community undertake them, civil partnerships registrations (read the separate guidance on this)
  • religious life event ceremonies, such as baptisms, christenings and coming-of-age ceremonies  

Opening for any permitted purposes remains subject to physical distancing and hygiene safeguards.

Read the general guidance on staying safe and protecting others.

This guidance is not an instruction to reopen places of worship for any of the permitted purposes. Each place of worship should make its own decision about when it is ready to do this and should only reopen if this can be done safely. Any place of worship that is reopening must take the contents of this guidance into consideration.

We will consider how to allow places of worship to fully reopen within the public health requirements advised as we move through Phase 3 and into Phase 4 of our route map, taking account of medical and scientific advice. 

This guidance is based on scientific and medical advice at the time of writing. It does not constitute legal advice. Please ensure that you are reviewing the latest version of this guidance.

First published: 18 Sep 2020 Last updated: 8 Oct 2020 -