Blackburn Cathedral has today made the difficult decision to suspend all public worship in its building following stark warnings from local health chiefs of rising infection rates and increasing pressure on its hospitals.
The Cathedral will open for two hours each day for private prayer and reflection while all worship will be offered online from today.
The plea to pause all communal worship has come from the Directors of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackpool Council to all faith groups to help control the spread of the virus and keep people safe.
Local health providers are preparing to roll out vaccine clinics across the region – which has seen some of the highest infection rates in the country – including opening a mass vaccination hub in the Undercroft and Crypt area of Blackburn Cathedral with its separate access from the main Cathedral building.
The Dean of Blackburn said:
“This has been a difficult decision to come to, but in the interests of public health, responsible leadership and a determination to work together to see the suppression of the COVID pandemic, I hope people understand our need as a community of faith to act at this moment in time.”
“We are proud to be able to walk alongside our community in these challenging times and look forward with hope to being at the centre of the fight against this pandemic when our crypt opens as a vaccination clinic in the coming days.”
The building closed to public worship this morning (Friday) and will remain open for private prayer Tuesday to Friday and Sunday between the hours of 10.00am to 12.00noon. Sunday worship and morning and evening prayers will take place online.
Under the latest Government rules, places of worship can currently remain open for private prayer, reflection and public worship.
Many cathedrals are urging people to stay home, keep safe and protect our NHS, and all of them are offering prayer and worship online so people can join in where they are.
All the cathedrals that can open will do so in a limited way for some hours during the day for private prayer and reflection and will also offer some public worship. All cathedrals will offer online worship, prayer, meditation and many offer tours, music and other activities online too.
Please be assured all our cathedrals continue to follow the latest public health and government guidance on the safe use of places of worship which includes observing social distance, making sure visitors do not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble, and offering hand sanitising stations.
Please visit your cathedral’s website for up to date information on days and times for opening and physical and online worship.