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.

To date, places of worship have been able to open for individual prayer or contemplation, funeral services, broadcasting acts of worship and to provide essential voluntary services.

As part of Phase 3 of Scotland’s framework for easing restrictions on lockdown, from 15 July places of worship will be allowed to reopen for the following additional permitted purposes:

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

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

This guidance will come into force on 15 July and is published to help places of worship who wish to reopen for these additional permitted purposes to prepare to do so as safely as possible.

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.

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: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 31 Jul 2020 -