As the gradual easing out of restrictions continues, different places of worship are putting measures in place to lower the risk of infections.
The Very Reverend Robert Willis, the cathedral`s dean, will have to cover his face with a plastic visor and pull on gloves before going down into the nave to deliver communion bread to the socially-distanced congregation at the end of every eucharist service at Canterbury Cathedral.
A number of proceedings will not be conducted in order to keep services short. There will be no communion wine, no choir, no singing, no hymn or prayer books. The members of the church will have to book seats in advance and leave soon after services. The congregation may only seat with family members.
Despite the authorization to open places of worship, several churches, mosques, synagogues and temples will remain empty as leaders contemplate coronavirus risks.
“Everyone is hugely excited about reopening for worship. We’ve kept absolutely to the rules [since lockdown], but nothing takes the place of being physically together,” said the cathedral`s dean Willis.
The Muslim Council of Britain `s secretary-general, Harun Khan, said: “Mosques must not feel rushed into reopening, but should only take this step when they feel it is safe to do so.”
Detailed guidance has been issued by faith organisations. Downloadable posters, as well as signs to display in places of worship, were included in the MCB`s advice. The United Synagogues` document runs to 22 pages, constantly emphasising caution; the C of E`s comprehensive FAQs include legal issues and the risks to volunteers.
The chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, expressed that reopening was not a single event “but rather a cautious, phased process” that occurs over a number of months. According to Jewish leaders, in September synagogues may still close for the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper.
An estimate of £1m a month has been lost in revenue by the cathedral since the lockdown began. Robert Willis expressed that the coronavirus pandemic will leave an immutable mark on the cathedral.