The police break off the Good Friday service
Police address worshipers at Christ the King's Polish church in Balham, London(Photo: Sky News)
Police said they stopped a service in London on Good Friday because the believers "were clearly not socially distant".
Officers visited Christ the King's Polish church in Balham on Friday at around 6pm after receiving reports of "crowds queuing outside," Sky News reports.
The church was not allowed to end the service and parishioners were told to go home or they could be fined £ 200 or even arrested for failing to provide their information.
An official was filmed telling parishioners that the gathering was "unfortunately unlawful under coronavirus regulations" and that believers "are not allowed to meet with so many people under the law".
He added, "It's Good Friday and I guess you'd like to worship, but it's illegal."
City police said no fines were imposed while on duty.
"Officials attended and found large numbers of people in the church. Some people were not wearing masks and those in attendance were clearly not socially distant," a statement said.
The officials are concerned about the risk of transmission.
"As such, officials have made a decision that it is not safe for this particular service to proceed," the statement said.
The church said her ward obeyed orders to "leave without objection" but denied any wrongdoing and said that "the police brutally exceeded their authority by issuing their arrest warrant for no good reason as everyone state requirements have been met ".
"We believe the city's police officers have been misinformed about the current guidelines for places of worship. The reason for their intervention is the ongoing ban on public ceremonies at places of worship in London due to the January 4, 2021 lockdown," it said in a statement .
"We regret that the rights of believers were violated on such an important day for every believer and that our worship was desecrated.
"We have informed the superiors of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales about this incident. We have asked the police authorities to explain the incident and we are awaiting their response."
The church, which plans to hold the remaining Easter services as planned, has also suggested that ward members complain to the Met police about the incident.
"The latest government guidelines of March 26, 2021 and the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales on the Holy Week experience clearly make it possible to celebrate with all sanitary rules in places of worship with the participation of the faithful," the statement added.
"We ask everyone to observe the current sanitary requirements in the church and in the area of social life and to pray that such situations do not recur."
Under current policy, face covering must be worn in church, but there are "valid exceptions for some individuals and groups not to wear face covering in these settings," including those who conduct and support services.
According to social distancing rules, visitors to a location must be "2 meters or more than 1 meter apart and take additional steps to ensure safety (such as wearing face coverings) to reduce the risk of transmission". Worshipers are also not allowed to converse with anyone outside their household or support a bubble while in a place of worship.