Nativity plays and outdoor carolling can go ahead, Church rep confirms

A nativity play at Worcester Cathedral, which in normal times welcomes large numbers through its doors at Christmas.(Photo: Worcester Cathedral)

Andrew Selous, the Church of England's representative in the Commons, has told MPs that Nativity plays and outdoor carolling can go ahead.

The Tory MP and Second Church Estates Commissioner said that "churches and cathedrals can now approach Advent and Christmas with certainty".

For indoor services and events, singing will be "limited to performance only".

Churches are set to re-open for public worship on 2 December when the second national lockdown ends.  

During lockdown, churches were forced to close except for private prayer, funerals and delivering key public services. 

The forced closures were strongly criticised by Church leaders, including the heads of the Church of England and Catholic Church, and over 1,000 ministers who signed an open letter calling for churches to remain open. 

Mr Selous told MPs: "The closure of churches is not something that any of us ever wants to see again."

From next week, services will be permitted across all three tiers, but subject to the rule of six in Tier 1, and restrictions on mixing with other households or bubbles in Tiers 2 and 3.

Mr Selous added: "Clergy have already demonstrated that they have made their buildings covid-secure, and many cathedrals and churches are planning to have multiple services to accommodate more people as fewer are allowed in each service." 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said earlier this week that he would be at church on Christmas Day and encouraged others to do the same, whether digitally or in person. 

Mr Selous said he hoped people would "follow the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury: to come to church in person or virtually and to spend time with their wider families in a safe and responsible way".