The federal government provides the go-ahead for the restricted opening of church buildings from June 15th

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Churches have been closed due to corona virus in recent months.(Photo: Unsplash / Hoyoung Choi)

The churches may be opened for individual prayer from June 15, two weeks earlier than announced.

The government announcement brings the official reopening date for places of worship to July 4th.

The original timeline was heavily criticized by church leaders, including Carindal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

"This is a first, measured step towards restoring the normal practice of our faith and is welcomed by so many who have been patiently waiting since March 23, when our churches were shut down following a government decision to fight them Pandemic, "said the cardinal.

"I thank everyone for this patience. It is important that every care is taken to ensure that the instructions for this limited opening are fully followed, not least by those who enter our churches.

"Our preparation takes place with thoroughness. Visiting a church for individual prayer that benefits from the sacredness of this room can be done safely and safely."

He added that not every Catholic church could open on June 15th.

He continued: "This first step enables us to learn and prepare for those who will lead us to more extensive use of our churches to celebrate Mass and other sacraments.

"We look forward to this time with deep longing but patient understanding that protecting the health of our society, especially those most at risk, is an appropriate reason for caution and care."

While the churches will be allowed to allow individuals to pray individually, they will have to wait longer before they can open themselves to full services and larger gatherings such as weddings.

The government had come under pressure last week to gradually reopen churches after the curtailment of retail and other sectors eased.

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, Chair of the Church of England Recovery Group, welcomed the announcement.

"This is the beginning of the journey for church buildings to open securely according to government recommendations and we look forward to their detailed guidelines to enable this first step," she said.

"All of our dioceses have received advice so that local churches can plan in advance to open themselves to individual prayer. Our council recognizes that a particular local church may be able to open with others at the same time and not work together. Local churches are encouraged.

"A simple template for risk assessment was provided.

"During this crisis, the churches served their congregations in various practical ways, but this announcement recognizes that the buildings themselves are important sacred spaces for people. We also remember everyone at that time who was concerned about the loss of a loved one mourn that during the crisis and realize that this is a fragile time in preventing the spread of this virus.

"We look forward to our church buildings once again becoming meeting places for worship, prayers and everything they do to serve and bless their congregations."

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