RELIGION: Churches to remain open at Christmas

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on her feet in the Scottish Parliament chamber.

First Minister Nichola Sturgeon has announced fresh Covid restrictions to combat the Omicron variant, but said that churches would remain open at Christmas with appropriate mitigations.

The Government has not yet announced exactly what form these mitigations will take, although there will be full coverage of this on The Democrat later today.

The First Minister stated that her ‘hardest request today was of the general public’.

“I want to be clear: I am not asking anyone to cancel Christmas, but in the run-up to, and in the immediate aftermath of, Christmas, I am asking everyone to reduce as far as possible and to a minimum the contact we have with people in other households,” she said.

“We are asking everyone, and we will issue strong guidance to this effect, to cut down as far as possible the number of people outside our own households that we are interacting with just now.

“This will help break transmission chains.

“However, if you do plan on socialising [before and after Christmas] either at home or in in-door public places, we are asking that you limit the number of households represented in your group to a maximum of three.”

The Government is not yet placing legal restrictions on household gatherings at Christmas.

Following today’s update, and without further changes, present restrictions will allow for Christmas celebrations in Church and at home to go ahead this year.

Sir Harry Burns, pictured right, the former Chief Medical Officer, who chaired the Catholic Church’s Covid Infection Committee that looked into how to make churches safe, said: “As far as I know there’s been no outbreak, no cluster of Covid cases associated with going to church.

“As long as masks continue to be worn, the Church is well ventilated and hand sanitiser is used we’re okay.

“I know a lot of churches are still sanitising pews, but we touch those with our hands, so sanitising the hands is the important bit.”

Top picture: The spires of St Patrick’s and Riverside Parish Church in Dumbarton tower above the snow. Picture by Bill Heaney

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