Updates: Latest news on coronavirus

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Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for Archdiocesan updates. Our statement on Covid-19 and safeguarding is here.


Matthew Meade is our Director of Communications: matthew.meade@staned.org.uk | 07833208211. Please approach your priest if your query relates to your parish.


Thursday 7 August

COVID rules for Hospitality settings

Food preparation:

People attending (“customers”)



Tuesday 24 August

Church halls and any other Church premises e.g. parish rooms etc, can be re-opened for all activities.

The following checks should be made for:

and ensuring there is hand sanitiser, wearing of face coverings indoors and good ventilation.

Tuesday 21 July

Archbishop Cushley has updated our clergy about Level 0 guidlines with the following FAQs.

Can holy water fonts be used?

There is still a risk that the virus can be transmitted through the use of holy water fonts. The use of fonts is not advised until further notice.

What about the distribution of hymn books and newsletters?

This may proceed as normal.

Can we have hospitality after Mass?

This is possible within the current government regulations and guidance but caution is urged and table seating is mandatory. Please make sure appropriate hygiene and safety measures are in place. Refer to this guidance for more information Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Can church halls be used for parish meetings?

This is possible within the current government regulations and guidance. Meetings should only take place in person if necessary, otherwise they should continue online. They should: have as few people as is necessary; be brief; be socially distanced and all the usual mitigations should be in place - cleaning, sanitising, wearing face coverings, socially distanced.

What about confessionals?

The use of enclosed confessionals should continue to be avoided.

Do we need to continue with Test and Protect?

Please continue to support the Test and Protect regime by the collection and temporary retention of parishioner information. However, if this is unduly burdensome parishes may collect information for just one person per family group. Alternatively, parishes may invite people to register for their usual Mass as a one-off and ask them to inform the parish if they can’t attend.

What about cleaning procedures?

We are still waiting on clarification about the cleaning of churches. We expect the need for this will be reduced but please continue with the procedures you currently have in place.

What are the main changes affecting places of worship in Level 0?

Scotland moved to Level 0 on Monday 19 July – it is the lowest level of covid restrictions.


Tuesday 13 July 

The First Minister has announced that all of Scotland will move to Level 0 on Monday 19 July.
What this means for Churches

Please note

For changes that affect halls, please see Scottish Government Guidance.

Monday 28 June

The changes below are dependent on the infection rates being under control (which is not the case at the moment) so these dates are not to be taken as fixed.

For some time to come the following should be standard practice:

Friday 04 June

From Saturday 05 June the following areas go into Level 1:

East and West Lothian
Scottish Borders

What it means for Level 1 areas

All other areas remain in Level 2. Singing can only take part in small groups and the max capacity for funerals and weddings is 50.


Government guidance now asks places of worship to apply the same criteria to Baptisms as they do to other acts of worship such as Holy Mass. So capacity for a Baptism outside of Mass may be based on 2m physical distancing.

Please note that different rules still apply to funerals and weddings.


Scottish Government on Weddings (for all areas)

‘With effect from 5 June, the amended physical distancing requirements will allow businesses, services and places of worship to permit a party to the marriage or civil partnership to be accompanied down the aisle or to join the celebrant or registrar for the start of the ceremony or registration by a guest (such as a parent or parents) who is not in the same household or extended household, without physical distancing being observed.

The exemption permitting a party to the marriage or civil partnership not to wear a face covering for the duration of the ceremony or registration in an indoor public place is also amended with effect from 5 June.

The effect is the party to the marriage or civil partnership does not have to wear a face covering whilst being accompanied even if physical distancing is not observed. The party, of course, may choose to wear a face covering whilst being accompanied.

There is no change to the requirement for guests to wear a face covering during the ceremony or registration in an indoor public place, unless exempt. Therefore, the person accompanying the party to the marriage or civil partnership will still need to wear a face covering, unless exempt generally.’

Childcare guidance

Unregulated childcare guidance has been updated and capacity may now be based on physical distancing (note that physical distancing does not apply to those aged 12 and under). Unregulated childcare includes babies and toddler groups and church run groups for children. Please note that different guidance applies to regulated childcare settings which are groups registered to the Care Inspectorate or other registered body.

Mon 26 April


▪ The 50-capacity restriction on places of worship is removed today.
▪ Capacity is determined by the size of the church, with continued two-metre physical distancing (smaller churches are unlikely to see an increase in capacity).
▪ Weddings/Funerals: The maximum capacity for both rises to 50.

Fri 16 April

The 50-capacity restriction on places of worship in Scotland is being changed from Monday 26 April. Capacity will be determined by the size of the church, with the continued requirement of 2 metre physical distancing. Registering the attendees at each Mass and the other mitigations of face coverings, hand sanitiser and one-way systems etc. will still be necessary. It means bigger churches will be able to welcome more people to Mass. Places of worship will be expected to undertake a building assessment to determine capacity. The Scottish Government is developing new guidance on this and I will update you with it when details are issued.

From 26 April the maximum capacity at both weddings and funerals will rise to 50 (it is currently 5 for weddings and 20 for funerals).

Thur 25 March

Archbishop Cushley's video message on churches reopening.

Wed 24 March

Churches can now reopen!

Coronavirus regulations that forced the closure of churches in Scotland and criminalise public worship have been deemed unlawful.

A group of 27 church leaders launched a judicial review at the Court of Session, including Canon Tom White, a priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, arguing the Scottish government acted beyond their powers under emergency legislation. Lord Braid agreed the regulations went further than was lawfully allowed.

The ruling comes two days before communal worship is due to resume.

(From BBC Scotland News)

Tue 23 March

Churches can reopen from this Friday 26 March. Many parishes are preparing to welcome you back for Holy Week (beginning this Sunday). We appreciate that not everyone will be able to attend Mass and services because of the 50 max capacity restriction. The following will be streamed on our YouTube channel.

Tue 16 March

Wed 09 March

The First Minister has announced the Scottish Government’s intention to allow the reopening of churches in time for Holy Week and Easter, assuming no deterioration in the virus.

Coronavirus update: churches to close from Friday

The First Minister has announced new lockdown measures that will result in the closure of churches from Friday (08 January).


Life Events

(source: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/)

What the First Minister said today (04 January):

“A number of other measures will come into effect on Friday. It is with real regret that we consider it necessary for places of worship to close during this period for all purposes except broadcasting a service, or conducting a funeral, wedding or civil partnership. I am well aware of how important communal worship is to people. But we believe that this restriction is necessary to reduce the risk of transmission. While up to 20 people will still be able to attend funeral services, wakes will not be possible during January. And a maximum of five people will be able to attend wedding and civil partnership services."

Friday: Churches return to 50 max capacity for Mass

From this Friday at 6pm, Level 4 restrictions will be lifted. It means all parishes can return to having a maximum of 50 people at Mass. Keep up to date at our Coranvirus Updates page.


Churches to remain open in all tiers of new coronavirus alerts

Good news - churches will remain open in all tiers of the Scottish Government's new system of coronavirus alerts. This comes into effect on 02 November.

Full framework document is available here.


For the latest on the impact of  coronavirus on the Church, please visit our coronavirus updates page.

Christians unite in weekly Sunday evening prayer

This Sunday, Christians across Scotland will join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As with previous weeks during lockdown and the phased easing of restrictions, 14 Christian church leaders across the country, including Archbishop Leo Cushley, have co-signed this week's letter calling for prayer.

In it, they say: "In the midst of the complexity, we hear again the commandments to love God and neighbour and affirm that everything hangs on these two as our indispensable guide.

We pray

Lord our God,
We turn to you,
As the One who has spoken in times past,
And ask that that you would speak to us in times present.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
In our response,
We listen for your Word
And the call to love you with heart and soul and mind.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
In the living out of our response,
We offer all that we are,
Knowing you have given all through Christ our Lord.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We turn to you,
As the One who has made us in your image,
And who makes our neighbour in that same image.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
In our response,
We journey with our neighbour
And seek to love them as you command.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
In the living out of our response,
We stand together with our neighbour,
Knowing you stand together with us through Christ our Lord.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

Pastoral letter: Let's return to Mass and keep Sunday holy

Archbishop Leo Cushley is calling for Catholics in the Archdiocese to return to Mass and do all they can to keep Sundays holy.

In a pastoral letter sent to parishes for this weekend, he addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on worship and acknowledges the hard work of priests and volunteers.

He writes: "Extra Masses have been scheduled in many parishes, and they are regularly 'full' in accordance with the present two-metre, 50-person, social distancing rules. So, let me encourage you to go to Mass whenever you can, to seize the chance while our churches remain open, and to go to Holy Communion if you can."

On the subject of online Mass, he adds: "Nothing can substitute for our full and active participation in the Sunday Eucharist, and unless impeded, we will all of us have the right and the duty to gather for Mass when it is safe to do so. If nothing else is stopping you, take every opportunity to go to Mass. But if these circumstances persist for a time, be nimble and imaginative, and set aside time to attend Mass online."

The Archbishop emphasised that keeping the Sabbath holy "is something enshrined in the Ten Commandments," and writes: "This duty is a sacred one and so I encourage you to learn to spend time in silence, in reading the Scriptures, in prayer, especially as a family."

The Archbishop is also encouraging people to go to confession: "The time of lockdown has been one of great stress for many and perhaps also of great temptation. But the Lord is full of mercy: come and be reconciled, so that you can approach full communion with Him and with each other once more."

He finishes: "Let me finally thank the priests of the Archdiocese publicly and warmly for their perseverance and hard work in these months. They have been working diligently in these strange circumstances to do what they can, and to learn new skills to help keep parish life alive.

"I am confident you will want to support them, to pray for them and encourage them with your own goodness and example."

Read the Archbishop's pastoral letter here. Keep updated by visiting our coronavirus updates page. For national updates from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland click here.

Call to prayer at 7pm on Sunday

Christians across Scotland are continuing to come together in the spirit of prayer this Sunday at 7pm.

In a joint statement, signed by Archbishop Cushley, church leaders said: "The past months have reminded us of the precious nature of human life and of our dependence, in part, on others for the sustaining of life.

"As we acknowledge this to be so, we recognise that ultimately the gift of life is a gift given by God. Our ultimate dependence is on the giver of this gift. In this, we are reminded of the fragile nature of life and of creation of God and of the need to care for all that is gifted to us.

"In the midst of the life we share, God creates, through Christ and by the Spirit, a community in which we are affirmed as children of God. Within this community we are invited to name the living God, share in the inheritance of Christ and to receive the Spirit of God (Romans 8: 12-25).

As the children of God, who have received the gift of God, we pray:

We praise you, living God
And cry: ‘Abba’, Father!
For you are the One who creates life
And loves all that your hand has made.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, living Christ
And confess that Jesus is Lord!
For you are the crucified and risen One
Through whom we have peace with God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, Spirit of the living God
And thank you that we are adopted as children of God.
For you are the One who shares in all our struggles
And inspires in us hope.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
And worship and glorify your name.
We cry: ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.’
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

WATCH: parishioners respond to returning to church

It's been one week since our churches could open their doors for private prayer. How do parishioners feel about returning to their parish? Check out these 'Opening Up' videos from St Mary's Cathedral and St Andrews Church, Edinburgh.

Video: How do you feel about the reopening of our churches?


Video: What have you missed most about parish life during lockdown?


Video: What lesson have you learned during lockdown?


Bishops' disappointment over delay to communal worship

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has called the decision to delay communal worship [ie Mass] in churches as "perplexing".

They said: "The Scottish Government’s decision not to allow places of worship to open for communal worship until 23 July at the earliest, while allowing pubs, restaurants and cinemas to reopen on 15 July is both disappointing and perplexing.

"The Catholic Church has responded positively to government requests from the very beginning of lockdown and submitted detailed protocols for infection control and staged reopening to the Scottish Government over three weeks ago, without any objection from the government.

"The church has continued to engage with government and the reopening of churches for personal prayer since Monday (22 June) has allowed time to assess the procedures in place to assure public safety. With these considerations in mind, further delays to communal worship appear unjustified.

"The Bishops’ Conference will convey these views to the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency."

Reopening: What it means for your church

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland (BCOS) has welcomed the announcement that churches may reopen for private prayer from this Monday (22 June). Read the Scottish Government guidance here.

The basics

The announcement means that from Monday:


No public Mass

When is my church open?

Not every church will be open on Monday. Some parishes are still preparing so please be patient. Priests need to be satisfied that procedures outlined by BCOS are in place to reduce risk of potential infection. They also cannot open without volunteers - contact your priest if you can help. If your parish has more than one church, it's likely not all of them will be open.

Visit you parish website or social media page or phone your priest for details.

What to do in church

Pray! And follow the guidance from this video, issued by BCOS.

Here's our guide featuring Fr Allan Chambers from St Mary's in Bathgate.


Some parishes are providing their own summary guidance, including St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Informed clergy

Archbishop Cushley contacted all clergy across the Diocese on Thursday to update them and share a summary guide on church reopenings. He will update and clarify guidance for our priests in the coming week.

Pray and Support your priest

Today (Friday 19 June) is the World Day of prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. Please say a prayer for your priest. Also contact him if you are able to volunteer to help reopen your church.

BCOS guidelines - where to start

The BCOS guidelines on reopening churches are available to view here. There are a lot of documents. The below document is a good starting point. It outlines the phases of church reopenings, how to prepare and what to expect.

This document contains specific guidance on cleaning procedures.

The documents are subject to updates. These updates follow the latest Scottish Government guidance. For example, an update earlier this week stated that those aged 70 and over with no background health issues can now volunteer at their church.

Bishops' reaction

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, BCOS President, said: “We welcome the decision to reopen churches and look forward to the gradual resumption of church life, while recognising that not all parishes may be able to reopen immediately."

First Minister - what she said

Announcing the reopening of churches at Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: "I know that during this crisis many will have drawn real strength and comfort from their faith but I also know that people of all faiths are missing the ability to gather together.

"I want to acknowledge that and also thank the priests, ministers, rabbis, imams and many others who have worked so hard to keep in touch with faith groups.

"The nature of this virus and how it is spread means that it may still be some time before large religious gatherings are permitted, but I do hope the reopening of places of worhsip for individual prayer will be welcomed and will provide comfort for many."