Publication - Advice and guidance

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

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the safe use of places of worship
What has changed

What has changed

We have carried out a complete review of this guidance in preparation for changes coming into effect on 26 April 2021. As we move to a system of different levels of protection that may be applied nationally or locally, the aim is for the guidance to reflect the levels so that it does not need to be changed so often. 

From 26 April all parts of Scotland will move to level 3.  For places of worship the key changes are:

  • the number of people who can be admitted to a place of worship is no longer capped at 50, but is still subject to 2m physical distancing
  • indoor hospitality is now permitted, so places of worship can serve food and drink after services, provided they do so in line with the hospitality guidanceNote that places of worship are not eligible to apply reduced distancing of 1m.

The structure of some sections of the guidance has changed:

  • “Advice for those attending a place of worship” now includes general advice on staying safe, what to do if someone has COVID-19 symptoms, advice for those who may be more vulnerable, and on travelling to attend a place of worship.
  • “General precautions for safe operation” covers risk assessment, physical distancing, health and safety, cleaning and hygiene, Test and Protect, face coverings and arrangements for children.
  • “Individual and Congregational Worship” covers faith-specific practices, full immersion in water, singing, chanting and playing instruments, life event ceremonies, and hospitality after worship.

More generally, the guidance has been reviewed to make sure it is clear and all links are up to date and relevant. Changes include

  • clarifying that a place of worship includes any public place when it is used for worship, for example community halls
  • reflecting the change to Test and Protect guidance, which now requests that details are collected for each worshipper rather than allowing for a lead contact for a household group
  • updated and clarified guidance on issues relating to children


29 April

  • Section on Restrictions on Capacity updated to reflect new guidance
  • Note on other emergency procedures added to Risk Assessment
  • Note on Check In Scotland added to Test and Protect
  • Updated wording on Face Coverings, particularly on people who are exempt
  • Updated wording on Children
  • Note on management activity added to Other uses

First published: 18 Sep 2020 Last updated: 29 Apr 2021 -