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Leader of Catholics in England and Wales says ministers must NOT close places of worship

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Leader of Catholics in England and Wales says ministers must NOT close places of worship in current Omicron panic

  • Boris Johnson is set to restrict imposing further restriction in England
  • Leader of Catholics said churches were ‘not places where we spread the virus’ 
  • Cardinal Vincent Nichols called on ministers to avoid closing places of worship 
  • Religious buildings were closed in March until July 2020 amid Covid lockdown 


The Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Catholics in England and Wales has urged the Government not to close churches amid record Covid-19 infection rates.

Boris Johnson will resist imposing further restrictions in England after Christmas, according to speculation, after data revealed Omicron may cause less severe illness than the Delta Covid-19 strain. 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said it was clear that large spaces such as churches were ‘not places where we spread the virus’.

‘I would sincerely appeal that they do not again consider closing churches and places of worship,’ the archbishop told the BBC prior to Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020 led to the closure of places of worship as Britain went into a complete lockdown, with religious buildings only reopening in June and July 2020.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols (pictured), leader of the Catholics in England and Wales, said it was clear that large spaces such as churches were'not places where we spread the virus'

Cardinal Vincent Nichols (pictured), leader of the Catholics in England and Wales, said it was clear that large spaces such as churches were ‘not places where we spread the virus’

Since June, 15, 2020, places of worship in England have been able to host individual prayer and funerals. Public worship was allowed to resume in England on July, 4, 2020.

‘I think this country has shown that people can make good judgements themselves,’ the archbishop added.

‘We’re at that point of saying we understand the risk. We know what we should do. Most people are sensible and cautious. We don’t need stronger impositions to teach us what to do.’

It comes after a further 122,186 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK as of 9am on Christmas Eve, another record daily figure, while 137 people died within 28 days of testing positive. 

Since June, 15, 2020, places of worship in England have been able to host individual prayer and funerals. Public worship was allowed to resume in England on July, 4, 2020. Pictured, Westminster Cathedral

Since June, 15, 2020, places of worship in England have been able to host individual prayer and funerals. Public worship was allowed to resume in England on July, 4, 2020. Pictured, Westminster Cathedral 

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week'circuit breaker' lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400

Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain's Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government's threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country

Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain’s Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country 

Covid hospitalisations are now doubling roughly every 10 days - though they are still a far cry from the 850 at the peak last January

Covid hospitalisations are now doubling roughly every 10 days – though they are still a far cry from the 850 at the peak last January

A graph showing the daily count of Covid patients in mechanical ventilation beds. Johnson may have to make a call on more restrictions by Tuesday at the latest so they can be implemented in time for New Year's Eve

A graph showing the daily count of Covid patients in mechanical ventilation beds. Johnson may have to make a call on more restrictions by Tuesday at the latest so they can be implemented in time for New Year’s Eve 

In Scotland, nightclubs will close for at least three weeks from December 27 as part of a package of measures to control the spread of the virus, while clubs in Wales and Northern Ireland will close from Boxing Day.

But in England, the Government may choose to issue new voluntary guidance on limiting contacts rather than risk another damaging Tory rebellion by recalling Parliament to impose new rules.

The Prime Minister has indicated he will not hesitate to act after Christmas if required – with Monday expected to be the first opportunity for ministers to consider whether changes are needed beyond the existing Plan B measures.  

Potential new curbs could include a return to the rule of six and a ban on socialising with another household indoors – and they could be in place until late March according to Government scientific advisers. 

Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain’s Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country.

Latest NHS data shows there were 386 new admissions for the virus in the capital on December 22, marking a 92 per cent rise on the figure last week.

Covid hospitalisations are now doubling roughly every 10 days – though they are still a far cry from the 850 at the peak last January. 

Johnson may have to make a call on more restrictions by Tuesday at the latest so they can be implemented in time for New Year’s Eve, The Times reports.  

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