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Scottish government U-turn after criticism over reopening churches

August 2020

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader
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The Scottish government changed its mind last month to allow churches to reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown.

Initially, Nicola Sturgeon’s government was going to force churches to remain closed for longer, even though pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen.

But following a huge backlash from churchgoers across the country the government in Edinburgh reversed its decision.

Scottish parliamentarians also criticised the government. One MSP said it was wrong to prioritise the reopening of pubs ahead of places of worship.

Murdo Fraser called it ‘extraordinary’ that bars and restaurants were to be allowed to open their doors from 15 July but churches were being told to wait until at least 23 July.

He said: ‘This seems a very strange set of priorities by the Scottish government and gives the impression they are prioritising pints over prayers.’

It is believed that many Christians wrote letters and emails to their local representatives about this issue, and that helped to persuade the authorities to rethink their policy.

Churches in England and Northern Ireland have been allowed to gather for worship. At the time of writing, churches in Wales have not yet been given a date to reopen. But the Welsh government is being cautious across a number of areas.