Church Of England Says Only Five People Can Attend Weddings Under Coronavirus Rules
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The Church of England (CoE) has put out new guidelines advising that no more than five people will be allowed to attend weddings, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
After the government released new advice around the crisis, including closing schools and banning travel outside the UK, the CoE has taken note of the need for social distancing.
It has advised that any events that are currently planned would need to be 'significantly scaled back' in order to adhere to the new rules to help stop the spread of the virus.
Information put out on the Church of England website also states that if families wish to rearrange any events, the Church would make sure to help where possible.
The statement added: "In the case of weddings, it recommends that the numbers attending the ceremony should be limited to the legal minimum of five people: the priest, the bride and groom and two witnesses.
"Apart from the couple themselves, everyone else should observe a social distance as far as possible. The guidance makes clear that traditions such as the priest touching the rings or the couple's hands as part of a prayer or blessing are not required.
"It also clarifies that the reading of banns will not be possible as public worship services have been suspended. But couples can instead apply for a licence through a different procedure and those whose banns have already been read can proceed."
The Church has also said that streaming could be arranged but also knows that couples might want to postpone until they are able to hold their wedding in front of friends and family.
The advice also extends to baptisms, which would mean less people can attend, saying 'the priest should not hold the child and that water should be administered with an appropriate implement such as a shell'.
The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said: "Couples and parents, friends and families will have been planning for months, even years for their special moment, whether a wedding or a christening.
"Now it can go ahead - but with only the minimum required in attendance. You may need to cancel or postpone.
"Whatever decision is made, God's love and blessing will still surround all those who would have been there that day.
"Prayers will still be offered, and there will be a special day to look forward to in the future.
"We encourage those who would have been there to hold couples and families in their prayers, and pray that everyone will know God's love is holding them at this time."