Delay to Easing of Restrictions – Response from Affinity

As the government announces a delay in releasing England from the majority of the Covid restrictions in private and public spaces, Graham Nicholls, Director of Affinity, comments:

“It is very disappointing that the restrictions for churches, especially on mask-wearing whilst seated and the effective ban on congregational singing, have not been relaxed. With all the information now in the public domain I cannot see the scientific justification for all these measures to remain in place. Our churches, especially at this time of year, are well-ventilated buildings, and prolonged face-to-face contact is not common indoors. Furthermore, singing has not been proven to be a significant factor in virus transmission. We therefore call on the government to change the guidance for churches and allow us the freedom to gather and sing without masks.

On the continuation of lockdown more generally, Christians have differing opinions. Some will be relaxed about it, content that the government is doing its best and generally favouring their cautionary stance. Others are deeply frustrated with the lockdown, and with the response of churches which has generally been very compliant.

My personal view is that given the scale of the vaccine rollout and its apparent success – even against virus variants – we need a clearer set of criteria to move out of all restrictions. It has to be the goal that we treat Covid-19 as a serious public health challenge but not an emergency. Our concern with the current process is that there is no likely scenario in which freedom will be restored in the foreseeable future because there will always be new variants and new outbreaks.

As well as our rights as citizens, and our ability to deal with risk, this has serious implications for our freedom for worship and outreach. Churches have been extremely compliant throughout the pandemic, and we continue to encourage them to love God and love their neighbours as they obey the law and government guidance. But I sense a growing frustration that the ongoing restrictions are becoming unreasonable.

However, we humbly recognise that all our judgments are imperfect and provisional. And so we trust a sovereign God who is in control of all things, and wait patiently for his timing.”

Graham Nicholls is Director of Affinity

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