The Catholic Union has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to remove the cap on the number of people allowed to attend religious services in Scotland.
Churches in Scotland were able to reopen for public worship on 26 March, having been closed since the beginning of the year, but a maximum of 50 people could attend religious services.
The Catholic Union, along with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, argued that this cap was arbitrary and was preventing some people being able to return to Mass.
On 26 April, new guidance was introduced by the Scottish Government which lifted the cap on those able to attend religious services. However, a cap of 50 people remains in place for funerals and weddings in Scotland.
In England, there remains no cap on the number of people able to attend religious services, although a maximum of 30 people can attend funerals and weddings. This is currently not due to be lifted until 21 June in the UK Government’s Covid roadmap.
Catholic Union President, Sir Edward Leigh MP, said it was “ludicrous” that 285 people were allowed into Westminster Cathedral for a regular Mass, but that only 30 people could attend a funeral.
Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, comments: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve argued that any restriction on peoples’ right to worship needs to be justified by science and evidence. The Scottish Government has failed to produce any evidence that shows Covid secure church services are a public health concern, and their decision to ban religious services was successfully challenged in the courts earlier this year.
“There was never any justification for imposing a cap on the number of people who could attend religious services. This is something best left to individual churches, rather than arbitrarily imposed by the Scottish Government.
“People are continuing to work extremely hard to make churches Covid-secure and maintain social distancing. Churches in Scotland remain safe and are essential to the communities they serve. We welcome the decision to lift the cap as a step in the right direction. The Catholic Union will continue to work hard to make sure restrictions on churches are not in place a moment longer than they are needed.”
Read the letter we received from the Scottish Government here: Letter from Scottish Government 28.04.21