Places of worship can open for public worship, subject to risk assessments, in all parts of Britain.
- There is no limit to the number of people who can attend worship but venues must remain covid-secure.
- The number of people attending will be based upon the building capacity when covid-secure measures are in place.
- Social distancing and the wearing of face-coverings are mandatory indoors.
Area meeting trustees carry legal responsibility for deciding how to open premises safely within the guidance. Meetings may decide not to open premises for face-to-face worship in order not to encourage people to risk their own or others' health by leaving their home more than necessary.
Here is a summary of other changes in each part of Britain:
England is now in Step 3 of the Roadmap to opening the country and economy. Changes in England from 17 May include:
- There is now no limit to the number of mourners at funerals but when indoors the Covid secure capacity of the venue must be adhered to.
- Weddings and other life-cycle events are limited to 30 people.
- Hospitality spaces within a place of worship, such as cafés, are permitted to open both inside and outside and managers should follow covid hospitality guidance for England.
For full details see the guidance for opening places of worship in England.
Most of mainland Scotland and some islands are at COVID-19 Level 2, with other islands at Covid Level 1. Moray and Glasgow City council areas remain at Covid Level 3 due to the number of cases. Changes from 17 May for parts of Scotland at Covid Level 2 include:
- Up to 50 people can attend weddings and funerals. Venues must remain covid-secure and not exceed building capacity.
- Guidance for the hospitality sector in Scotland should be followed, in relation to both hospitality offered after (or before) congregational worship.
For full details see the guidance for opening places of worship in Scotland.
In Wales, all areas are currently at Alert Level 2. Changes from 17 May include:
- Check restrictions on buildings that are not usually used for religious purposes.
- There is no limit to the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships or funerals. All people attending must have been invited. Venues must be covid-secure and not exceed safe capacity.
- Wakes and other similar events are limited to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors, depending upon venue capacities.
- Hospitality should not be offered before or after worship unless there is a permanent café or servery at the venue that can be set up in a covid-secure way. Follow the current hospitality guidance for Wales if you plan to offer refreshments. Informal mixing is not permitted.
For full details see the guidance for opening places of worship in Wales.
Britain Yearly Meeting staff are all at work. If you need advice please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
As well as our resources below, you often need to check the most up-to-date government guidance on worship and activities in meeting houses. You can find this on various government websites.
- Coronavirus in England
- Find out the rules on what you can and cannot do in England
- Safe use of places of worship in England
- Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities in England
- Coronavirus in Scotland
- Scotland protection Level 2
- Guidance for safe use of places of worship in Scotland
- Coronavirus in Wales
- Wales Alert Level 2
- Guidance on re-opening places of worship in Wales
- Guidance for safe use of multi-purpose community centres in Wales
These should be read alongside government guidance in your part of Britain:
- 9 steps to reopening Quaker meeting houses and worship spaces safely - 22 July 2020 (Word)
- COVID-19 risk assessment - 22 July 2020 (Word)
- 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 on our funerals guidance page.
The number of mourners able to gather in-person varies in each part of the Britain. Check local guidance for the number of people who can be present.
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?
We are now emerging from the restrictions due to covid in all parts of Britain. Some people in our communities may need to remain in some level of isolation over the next few months.
- 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
Look at the document thoughts on re-starting in-person worship (PDF) for advice and guidance on how to include everyone who needs to be part of decision-making about re-starting Quaker and other activities in Quaker premises.
Advice and guidance for Quaker meetings as employers
Visit the ACAS coronavirus website (offsite link) to find the latest advice and guidance.
Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall
Both venues are in the process of planning how to re-open safely. Please see the 'Contact us' page for more details.
The work of Britain Yearly Meeting
Most BYM staff are mainly working from home, supporting Quakers across Britain in their faith and witness.
However, with the continued closure of Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall, BYM can't generate trading income. Many staff are being furloughed under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. BYM is taking this step to protect jobs and to make sure we are able to serve the needs of the Quaker community, both now and long into the future.
There is an article about the decision to furlough staff.
National Quaker events
BYM is following public health advice. We have cancelled all in-person events for the foreseeable future; some are being run online. 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.
Image of meeting house: © 2019 Mike Pinches