Places of worship can open for public worship, subject to risk assessments, in all parts of Britain. Here is a summary of recent changes in each part of Britain:
England moves to Step 4 of the Roadmap to opening the country and economy. The restrictions on gathering for worship and for any other activity have been removed. The Government is emphasising that the following behaviours are beneficial:
- Meeting in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open.
- Wearing a face covering where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
- Washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.
- Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
- Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing illnesses on to friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community.
- Considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status.
The Government is encouraging venues to continue keeping temporary records of visitors to support NHS Test and Trace in England.
Although there are no legal limits on the number of people attending worship or another Quaker event, keeping safe social distancing may mean that you have to limit the numbers.
For full details see the
guidance for opening places of worship in England.
From 19 July Scotland is all at Covid-19 Level 0. There will be a further review on Monday, 9 August. Below are the headlines of what can happen at Level 0:
- Worship can take place. Worshippers must wear face coverings and venues are asked to maintain a distance of 1 metre between members of different households.
- Guidance for the hospitality sector should be followed, in relation to both hospitality offered after (or before) congregational worship.
- A temporary register of visitors needs to be maintained for NHS Scotland's Test and Protect system.
- Up to 200 people can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals, and post-funeral commemorative events such as wakes. Venues must remain covid-secure and not exceed building capacity.
For full details see the
guidance for opening places of worship in Scotland.
- Worship can take place. Worshippers must wear face coverings and venues are asked to maintain a distance of 2 metres between members of different households.
- Refreshments can be provided but must be consumed at tables following the guidance for tourism and hospitality businesses in Wales.
- A temporary register of visitors must be maintained for the Welsh Government Test, Trace, Protect service.
- Weddings, civil Partnerships, funerals and other religious life events can take place and are subject to social distancing and the wearing of face coverings indoors.
For full details see the guidance for opening places of worship in Wales.
Britain Yearly Meeting staff are all in work. If you need advice please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes are taking place across Britain and the restrictions are being removed in all regions. We are now able to re-start activities that were previously not possible. We are moving from compulsory restrictions to voluntary restrictions. The emphasis from the Governments is that we need to think of how we can be supportive of others in the choices that we make to keep everyone safe.
We can look to our Quaker advices and queries when thinking about our options and actions. This might help us to know if our choices are for the benefit of others in our Quaker communities, or for our own benefit.
Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) is taking a measured approach for staff working at Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall and as a venue for worship and lettings.
Sharing and support
Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) staff continue to support meetings through the pandemic. We welcome ideas on how we can all uphold Quaker communities. Please send ideas or questions to email@example.com. Your email may be shared with Woodbrooke staff.
Worship: alternatives to meeting for worship in person indoors
Quaker worship can happen anywhere at any time.
Some Quakers sit worshipfully, separately in their own homes at a prearranged time (not necessarily Sunday morning) in order to worship with each other at a distance.
You can gather in worship outdoors (even in pairs) depending on government guidance in your part of Britain.
Many Quaker meetings in Britain are holding worship online. You can find them by looking on their website or social media pages, or by contacting their clerk. Our search tool will help you find these details. Woodbrooke offers online worship (offsite link) most days of the week which anyone may join.
Woodbrooke's 'setting up your own online worship' page you will find:
- a guide to joining and holding online worship, including instructions for those less used to using computers. Some online meetings have telephone access too.
- guides for children's meetings, youth work, and online and blended meetings for worship for business
- a simple guide for those new to Quaker worship
Blended online and in person
We have developed:
- advice about blended physical and online worship (PDF) - updated 22 July 2020
- blended worship stories and equipment - from 11 meetings - (PDF) updated 7 October 2020
Guidance on reopening your meeting house or worship space
Is your meeting just starting to resume worship and other activities in person? There are things that you need to think about and put in place to make sure that people are safe. You should complete a risk assessment that could be in the form of a checklist. You should work alongside your area meeting trustees to agree on the steps to opening safely.
As well as our resources, you will need to check the most up-to-date government guidance on worship and activities in meeting houses. You can find this on various
- Coronavirus in England
- Find out the rules on what you can and cannot do in England
- Safe use of places of worship in England
- Coronavirus in Scotland
- Scotland protection Level 0
- Guidance for safe use of places of worship in Scotland
- Coronavirus in Wales
- Wales Alert Level 1
- Guidance on re-opening places of worship in Wales
- Guidance for safe use of multi-purpose community centres in Wales
- 25 solutions when you can't fit everyone in your COVID-19 secure worship space (Word)
- Risk assessment for children's meetings (Word)
- Guidance for children's meetings in England (Word)
- Guidance for children's meetings in Scotland (Word)
- Guidance for children's meetings in Wales (Word)
Holding physical children's meeting for worship
See the four documents relating to children's meetings above.
Funerals and weddings
Government regulations permit the holding of funerals in places of worship, if certain strict measures can be put in place. Please read our funerals guidance to be clear on what this requires. Check for local COVID-19 restrictions before planning or attending a funeral.
Funerals may also be held at a crematorium, or at a graveside. All government guidance on indoor or outdoor attendance and social distancing must be followed. There are different rules on this in England, Scotland and Wales – follow the links above or on our funerals guidance page.
In all parts of Britain the number of mourners able to gather in-person is dependent on the space available indoors or outdoors with social distancing measures in place. Check local guidance for details.
Memorial meetings and other post-funeral commemorative events
Memorial meetings and other post-funeral commemorative events, such as wakes, may fall under different local guidance to funerals. Check whether there is specific guidance for your part Britain that you need to follow.
More details, information and ideas are on our funerals page.
You must check guidance for your part of Britain to find out if a wedding can be held. Here are links to government websites:
What else can our Quaker community do?
Even though we are now emerging from the restrictions due to covid some people in our communities may need to remain in some level of isolation over the next few months.
Quaker Life local development team has made a series of videos on re-starting in person worship and other activities.
- Opening Up: Where we are; how do we open up and keep the good stuff? (offsite link)
- Opening Up: Opening the meeting place; the practicalities (offsite link)
- Opening Up: The way forward; journeying and worshipping together (offsite link)
There are also
resources and support for eldership and pastoral care.
Advice for area meeting trustees
We hope that AM trustees will continue to support and accompany local meetings in their areas over the coming weeks and months. The document, thoughts on re-starting in-person worship (PDF) is still available for communities that are just starting to gather in-person again.
Advice and guidance for Quaker meetings as employers
ACAS coronavirus website (offsite link) to find the latest advice and guidance.
Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall
Both venues are open in a limited way. Please see the
'Contact us' page for more details.
The work of Britain Yearly Meeting
Most BYM staff are still working from home, supporting Quakers across Britain in their faith and witness. Some staff are working part-time at Friends House and the Leeds office. They are not able to meet with anyone other than staff there. However, with the reduced opening of Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall, BYM can't generate a full trading income. A few staff are still furloughed under the government's
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. BYM is taking this step to protect jobs and to make sure we can serve the needs of the Quaker community, both now and long into the future.
National Quaker events
BYM is following public health advice. Many events and committees are being held on line – in particular, Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG). We are also running additional events and activities for all ages. Please see our events page to find out more.
Committees meetings are taking place online, or postponed. Committee secretaries will keep committee members updated.
Some staff, such as the local development workers, started to do a limited amount of face-to-face work from June.
Image of meeting house: © 2019 Mike Pinches