Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we are all aware, the Government has issued a clear roadmap for our way out of lockdown. In the light of all the recent announcements, we have decided to take a pause this week before we share further guidance on churches or reopening. Please continue to follow all the current guidelines and stay safe.

Bishop Sarah Mullally, who chairs the C of E Coronavirus Recovery Group (of which Bishop Christopher is a member), has responded to the Government announcement, saying the Group will be studying the details and refining the advice for local churches in the weeks ahead. It is encouraging news for those looking forward to being able to meet again in larger groups, and for couples planning weddings, later this year. Read it here. In the light of all the recent announcements, we are considering the range of advice before we share further guidance on churches or reopening.

Some of our churches have remained open throughout this lockdown and others are closed. We are aware that some churches returned to a mixed mode model (in-person and on-line) on Ash Wednesday. Those still closed will now be considering when to reopen.

Given that schools are going back on 8 March, some churches may consider Mothering Sunday on 14 March; others are considering doing the same on Palm Sunday.

The Cathedral is planning to reopen for public worship and private prayer on Palm Sunday, 28 March. Their decision has been driven by a desire to see the effect of the reopening of schools on the level of infections and to be close to the reintroduction of the Rule of 6. This will enable a full Holy Week and Easter to take place, on-line and in-person, but with restricted numbers, from the Cathedral.

It is, of course, important that a full risk assessment is undertaken before proceeding with any plans for reopening.

We wish you all a blessed Lenten Season.

The Coronavirus Task Group

(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and Sophia Jones)