29 July 2020
I hope you’re all well.
I wanted to come back to you in writing on some of the questions raised in last week’s Round table meeting in a form that you can share with others. I hope this is of help.
You asked for clarity on numbers who can attend funeral prayers.
· In common with all ‘lifecycle events’ where there are risks around family members in different households gathering and social distancing being potentially difficult to maintain, these should be limited to no more than 30 people. This also applies for post burial ceremonies/rituals.
· But we recognise that the boundary between a ‘funeral’ and communal funeral prayers is less clear cut. So this is about the application of some key principles that protect people’s health in a common sense way.
· First and foremost, manage events in ways that maintain social distancing and minimise risks around transmission. As some of you noted, asking people to move in and out of a Place of Worship to reduce a larger congregation to 30 or less in order to say funeral prayers for 2 minutes may increase rather than decrease risks.
· So where funeral prayers (taking up to 5 mins) directly follow Jummah or other daily prayers, involving the same congregation and add no new risks to social distancing and transmission, it will be sensible to say these prayers as part of that communal service.
· And remember, the other key principle here is ‘if in doubt, apply caution’.
You also asked us to clarify the position around large private bookings, for example football stadia.
· In the religious festivals checklist that Colin shared earlier in the week, we emphasised that while you can gather outdoors in groups of more than 30, it must be planned by an organisation in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance working alongside the owner of that space and with other relevant authorities.
· Anyone thinking of approaching the manager of a venue such as a sports stadium needs to be aware that existing regulations and guidance governing those venues significantly restricts capacity across typical spectator areas. It would be for individual venue managers to discuss and agree what might be possible within those constraints.
· But our strong advice, as ever, would be to plan and manage events in ways which reduce transmission risks and wherever in doubt, to apply caution.
Finally, you should have seen a lot of activity on preparations for Eid from both a national and local level – but if you have any remaining questions on the guidance or on any communications please do contact us.
Emma Scowcroft | Faith, Integration and Communities Division
Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF | M: 07458090727