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

Restrictions on capacity

Those responsible for places of worship should ensure that they only reopen to their communities for individual or congregational acts of worship and ceremonies to mark life events if it is safe to do so and in compliance with this guidance. It is their responsibility to put in place measures that will allow them to safely reopen.

Restrictions must be set by those responsible for the place of worship to limit the number of people permitted to enter at any one time, so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained between individuals from different household groups. Determination of capacity should take into account total floor space and likely ‘pinch points’ and busy areas, the building design and layout, and the availability of staff/volunteers to help manage attendance.

From 2 November, large public gatherings are still restricted. Places of worship located in areas with protection Levels  0-3 should not admit more than 50 people in total, regardless of venue size and usual capacity for levels.  From 8 January 2021 places of worship located within an area having Level 4 restrictions must close for communal worship and individual prayer, until further notice. 

For full details, refer to Individual and congregational worship.

A place of worship may be able to organise an outdoor worship event, with a maximum total of 200 people, in line with outdoor live event guidance.  This is subject to guidance within the strategic framework which states that no outdoor events can take place at level 2 upwards apart from holding a drive-in event in a level 2 area, on condition that it is set out as noted within events sectorial guidance.

In all cases, a risk assessment should be carried out to identify points of high risk in the building and any mitigating action.

First published: 18 Sep 2020 Last updated: 7 Jan 2021 -