UPDATED advice on taking part in individual prayer is being provided to faith communities by Bury Council.

The Government allowed places of worship to reopen for individual prayer on earlier this month, subject to strict safety measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that places of worship will be able to reopen for services, limited to 30 people and subject to social distancing, from 4 July. Guidance on how this will operate has not yet been published.

Bury Council has provided updated guidance to religious leaders through the Bury Faith Forum. The forum brings together local leaders who are drawn mainly from the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths, although other religions are also welcome to join.

The guidance – which is available on Bury Council’s website – provides a simple overview of what is allowed and what is not, according to information currently published.

It also includes advice on how to stay safe in the context of national guidance that personal protective equipment (PPE) is not required in faith settings.

Councillor David Jones, cabinet member for communities, said: “We know how difficult it has been for faith communities to not be allowed to meet and pray together during the pandemic lockdown.

“However, it is now permitted to go into a place of worship for individual, private, prayer, but only while following social distancing requirements and with extensive hygiene measures in place.

“We have a regular dialogue with our faith communities through the Bury Faith Forum and we have now provided them with a simplified version of the government guidelines.

“We hope this will help to provide clarity for people who wish to take up the opportunity of private prayer, while continuing to follow all the other safety measures.”

The guidance includes advice on:

  • Ensuring worshippers stay at least 2m apart from anyone else
  • Cleaning of frequently touched areas such as door handles and rails
  • Thorough hand washing before entering and when leaving
  • What to do if you suspect you are ill with covid-19
  • Whether to wear a face covering or mask

As part of its commitment to equality and diversity, Bury Council will also be undertaking an equalities review, which will include engagement from local community and faith groups.

Cllr Jones added: “The most important thing people can do is to follow the advice on social distancing, hand hygiene and what to do if they suspect they might be infected.

“It is not a requirement to wear PPE when visiting a place of worship, although individuals may choose to use a face covering or mask if they wish.

“I would urge anyone who is considering visiting a place of worship to read the advice we have posted on our website and the Government’s full advice on gov.uk.”