I understand the concerns that many of you in Fareham have about churches closing. As a spiritual person myself I understand the importance of communal worship and the significance that these necessary, but restrictive measures, have for our patterns of worship.
I do understand, however, that the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the country has led the Government to take action and I am pleased to have assurances from Ministers that this lockdown will not be for a day longer than is necessary.
Churches bring huge solace and comfort to people at this difficult time, which is why they can remain open for private prayer throughout this period of new national restrictions.
Unfortunately, communal worship is not permitted during the new national restrictions. I understand the upset that this will cause to many people, and know that leaders have put a lot of effort into making their venues safe for congregants. However, as I am sure you appreciate, the severity of the pandemic has made it necessary to limit personal interactions, especially when taking place indoors and in group settings.
I fully appreciate how important children's activities like Sunday school are to families. Places of worship do remain open for registered providers of childcare in line with the guidance published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july/
I think it is important people can understand why these restrictions have been put on places of worship. Public Health England is currently reviewing evidence around places of worship, and having looked into this for you I understand this information will be made available once it is complete.
To forgo communal worship in church is a sacrifice, but if we must do so to protect others, then I believe it is the right thing to do. There will come a time, soon, when we can all worship together again.