COVID 'group of six' ban in England 'will not apply' to places of worship

(UN Photo/Loey Felipe)The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby briefs the UN Security Council in New York on August 31, 2018.

The UK government's "rule of six," to combat rising coronavirus cases bannig social gatherings of more than six people, comes into force on Sept. 21, but will not apply to public worship in churches.

British authorities said the law would be changed in England to reduce the maximum number of people who can gather from 30 to six, to address an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

Scotland has different regulations.

There were 390,358 cases and 41,759 deaths during a 14-day upward trend reported ON the UK government's novel coronavirus dashboard.

The Archbishop of Canterbury tweeted Sept. 16, "After contact with Government, we hear that there is no change to guidance on places of worship. Worship is the work of God — not a social gathering — and gives the strength to love and serve."

On Facebook, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote, "The increase in COVID cases is very concerning. We must follow the guidance and take all the necessary measures to keep people safe."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a press conference at Downing Street, "In England, from Monday, we're introducing the rule of six. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six, and, if you do, you're break­ing the law."


He listed some exempt places, including places of worship, in which more than six people are still permitted to gather, The Church Times said.

"Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially together or form larger groups."

Earlier, Welby had said he is "deeply concerned" about the impact of the "rule of six" on family life.

A family of five will be allowed to meet only one grandparent at a time, while families of six or more will be prohibited from meeting anyone.

Support bubbles allow adults who live by themselves and single parents – to join up with one other household.

All social gatherings of more than six – whether a book club, dinner party or picnic – are banned in England under the new law.

Support bubbles allow adults who live by themselves and single parents – to join up with one other household.

Police will have the power to break up bigger groups in parks, pubs, and private homes.

Archbishop Welby's voice carries weight in Britain because he is the Church of England's principal leader and the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Welby was said to be concerned about the impact of the "rule of six" "the vulnerable, the needy, the poor and the elderly" in Britain, The Daily Mail reported.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the archbishop said: "It makes sense to look instinctively for central direction in such an acute crisis, and we're indebted to the roles many played in doing so, especially those who organized the NHS (National Health Service) to cope with the increased demand.

"Within the Church, there are lessons to be learnt about the role and importance of central guidance and its crucial interplay with government rules that exist for the benefit of all.

"But with a vaccine still far from certain, infection rates rising and winter on the horizon, the new normal of living with COVID-19 will only be sustainable - or even endurable - if we challenge our addiction to centralization and go back to an age-old principle: only do centrally what must be done centrally."

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