And so it begins…the start of our journey to re-open safely
Preparations are underway and measures are currently being put in place for the first phase of re-opening, and cathedrals are looking forward to gradually being able to open up and welcome people back into their buildings when it is safe to do so.
The Government announced late on Saturday night that all places of worship could open for supervised private prayer and reflection from June 15 in line with the latest Government and Public Health social distancing guidelines to ensure people’s safety.
It is the start of the journey to re-opening for all our cathedrals – as and when they are ready to do so.
Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Exeter, Gloucester, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Christ Church Oxford, Ripon, Salisbury, St Paul’s Truro, Wells, Westminster Abbey, and the ruins of Coventry Cathedral are amongst those aiming to re-open on the 15th, while others will do so at their own pace, gradually and carefully.
Each cathedral has its own strategy for re-opening safely – but most include limiting the number of people inside at any one time, the removal of all leaflets, much reduced seating, hand sanitisers at appropriate points, new signage to remind people of the health and safety messages around social distancing, and for some cathedrals, a one-way system to keep people safe.
Most cathedrals will operate much reduced hours as they begin to un-furlough staff, retrain volunteers, cafes and shops will remain closed, and many will be unable to open their toilets due to the spacing restrictions at this time.
Cathedrals across England have been closed since March 23. Since that time cathedrals have responded to the crisis in creative and innovative ways offering a wide range of support – both practical and spiritual to their communities – online and off.
Prayer walls, online candle-lighting, food and medicine deliveries, pastoral support to their communities via Facebook or telephone, virtual heritage tours and pilgrimage, meditations, daily reflections, daily worship – lighting up blue for the nationwide NHS initiative every Thursday – and Salisbury even took their major art exhibition online featuring 20 works of art by the most important and influential artists of our time.
A Prayer for a Safe Re-Opening
Adrian Dorber, who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals said:
“Out of crisis came opportunity, and we are glad to have been able to serve our communities, our cities and our dioceses in such creative and innovative ways during lockdown as we found new ways of doing church differently, new ways of engaging, and new ways to show that we are here, ever present.
“And while we long to open our doors again and welcome people in, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of everyone – the public, our worshippers, our visitors, staff, and volunteers.
“There is a lot to be done in establishing what a “new normal” will look like. Different places will have special opportunities and challenges but we’ll be doing our best to witness to God’s love and faithfulness and helping communities come to terms with the loss, disruption and change that the covid-19 crisis has brought.”
Please check your cathedral’s website to check their re-opening plans. You can find their website address in the ‘cathedrals’ section of our website here.
Cathedrals will continue to offer digital worship and other online services and you can find out more on their websites too.
Below Lincoln Cathedral prepares for opening with social distancing.