Most religious services will be banned under winter lockdown restrictions expected to last throughout November.
The Government has said that weddings will not be allowed, apart from under “exceptional circumstances” – which are yet to be defined, and funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.
In England, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close from November 5 until December 2, and people will be told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave – but schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.
This includes places of worship, unless they are being used for funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, formal childcare, or essential services such as blood donation or food banks.
Chair of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, Dame Sarah Mullally, said she will “study the detailed regulations when they are published” and “seek clarification on how this may affect public worship”.
The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches national director John Stevens said the new restrictions signal a “very significant emotional blow” for Christian couples who had planned their weddings for November.
He said: “In the context of Covid where people are dying and really struggling with mental health, cancelling a wedding might seem small by comparison.
“But the organisation that has gone into planning weddings and the financial cost… and it’s actually a really serious issue particularly for couples who are Biblical believing Christians.”
He added: “For people in church and other religious communities it seems a very unfair restriction – churches have put a great deal of effort into coronavirus measures and they are much safer than other settings which are still allowed to be open like secondary schools.”
The Government has promised to issue further guidance on the latest lockdown restrictions from Monday.