Covid-19 ban on brass and woodwind instruments in churches, MPs told

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Brass and woodwind instruments should not be used in churches to help combat the spread of Covid-19, MPs have been told.

Conservative MP Andrew Selous, in his role as the Church of England’s representative in the Commons, said there will be no cap placed on the number of people attending church services as long as Covid-secure guidelines are met.

But he added singing and chanting are not allowed even at a distance, and there are certain instruments which cannot be used.

Coronavirus
Lichfield Cathedral (PA)

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative Michael Fabricant asked when people will be allowed to return to evensong and enjoy the “wonderful choir” at Lichfield Cathedral in his constituency.

Selous, in his reply, said: “Sadly I have to tell him singing and chanting are not allowed even at a distance due to the additional risk of infection and woodwind and brass instruments should not be used, but that does still leave many other instruments.

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“His constituents can return for public worship from July 4.”

Conservative former minister Desmond Swayne said he used to enjoy a “hymn sandwich” before the pandemic.

He asked: “How is he going to lure us back if we’re not allowed to sing?

“Could I suggest, as a minimum, shorter services, even shorter sermons, some comfortable words from the Book of Common Prayer and an end to prating prelates?”

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle added: “Well Andrew Selous, sing to that one.”

Selous replied: “I hope he’s taking part in some of the uplifting online worship and services that have been available to him during lockdown.

“I’d say to him it’s the warmth of the welcome, the opportunity for fellowship, the chance to grow in faith through prayer, worship and the revelation of God’s word that will prove an irresistible temptation to (Swayne) to return.”

Selous also earlier told MPs: “Weddings can indeed now take place from July 4 but only with a maximum of 30 people and this is a huge relief to many couples throughout the country.

“For church services, there is no maximum number within a place of worship as long as the premises comply with Covid-secure guidelines.”

Asked by Conservative Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) if numbers at weddings could be increased this summer, Selous replied: “That 30 does include the minister and the couple themselves and there should be social distancing of one-metre-plus between individuals, households and support bubbles.

“That figure of 30 is what the government has advised for now and the government continues to listen to the science.

“From the couples I have spoken to they’re just so pleased to be able to get married and perhaps a bigger party, perhaps a celebration of renewal of vows could perhaps take place next year.”

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