Lancashire's Directors of Public Health urge all faith communities to pause communal prayer and worship during lockdown
7th January 2021
The three Lancashire Directors of Public Health have written an open letter to local faith groups asking them to pause communal worship due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
As Directors of Public Health representing Lancashire, we are strongly advising all faith communities to pause communal prayer and worship during the lockdown period, to reduce the possible spread of the new Covid variant.
We recognise that this is a big request, but it will help to protect our communities at this critical stage of the pandemic.
While we can't require our faith communities to do this, we are asking everyone to make this temporary change to protect each other.
You have already made changes to your worship arrangements, but we are asking for caution at this difficult and concerning time.
We're seeing increasing numbers of cases in Lancashire, and worrying increases in the number of people hospitalised from Covid, as well as increasing numbers of deaths. NHS and hospital capacity is under enormous strain across Lancashire.
Communal worship has not been banned under new lockdown, but we know that there are significant infection risks, due to people socialising before and after worship.
We know that many people who have tested positive for Covid haven't shown any symptoms.
Over the past 10 months, we know that there have been significant disruption to the usual worship and celebrations which people would usually take part in.
Thank you to our faith groups here in Lancashire for your continuing support to deal with Covid and its effect on our communities. You have helped your communities in so many different ways during these difficult times.
If you decide to continue with communal prayer and worship during lockdown, despite our strong advice on this issue, then we advise you to undertake a new, revised and detailed risk assessment of your current infection control procedures.
The new variant of the virus is increasing the seven-day rates by more than 250% in some Local Authority areas of the North West, and is up to 70% more infectious. This new increased risk of transmission will require a much higher level of infection control and compliance, to achieve the same level of safety as the previous measures.
Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Council
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council
Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council