COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship

Guidance for people attending a place of worship and those who are responsible for these venues.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This guidance has been withdrawn because it’s no longer current. Check up-to-date coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and information.

Applies to England


This guidance is for:

  • members of the public who may be attending a place of worship
  • members of the public or professionals who may be responsible for places of worship
  • professionals who work at places of worship

This guidance is only applicable in England. For guidance in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, please refer to guidance from the relevant national governments.

Keeping yourself and others safe

If you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test:

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

If you have any of these symptoms you should order a PCR test. You are advised to stay at home, avoid contact with other people, and follow the guidance for people with COVID-19 and their contacts while you wait for your test result.

Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you test positive:

If you have COVID-19 you can infect other people from 2 days before your symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. You can pass on the infection to others, even if you have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you have COVID-19 the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. You should follow the guidance for people with COVID-19 and their contacts.

It is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks.

Steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of transmission

There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. The government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.

Social distancing in a place of worship is now a personal choice. People are encouraged to respect other attendees and those working who may wish to adopt a more cautious approach.

Several simple and effective personal hygiene behaviours can also reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. These include:

  • washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and washing your hands before and after if you do need to touch your face (for example to put on or take off your face covering)
  • covering your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze, or sneezing into the crook of your elbow (not your hands) if you do not have a tissue

Let fresh air in

When worship takes place inside or in other enclosed spaces, consider how the space can be continually well ventilated, before, during and after.

Letting fresh air into indoor spaces is important because when a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, talks or breathes, they release droplets and aerosols which can be inhaled by other people. There is further guidance on ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Handling objects and communal resources

Surfaces can become contaminated with viruses like COVID-19. Once contaminated, touching them can transfer viruses to people’s eyes, nose or mouth. Those responsible for places of worship should facilitate access to hygiene facilities, for example by providing cleaning facilities and hand sanitiser.

Singing, music, and performances

There are no limits on the number of people who can sing or perform indoors or outdoors. However, some activities generate more particles as people breathe heavily, for example when singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices.

In situations where there is a higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19, you should be particularly careful to follow the guidance on keeping yourself and others safe as we return to normality.


All places of worship should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. The working safely guidance is also relevant to those responsible for maintaining venues which are used by the public and includes further information on cleaning and ventilation.

Food and drink

Where food and drinks are consumed, staff and attendees should follow the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services.

Other guidance

This guidance has been published alongside other specific guidance provided by the government (all of which is subject to review and update), which should be used together to ensure public safety. These include:

Published 16 July 2021
Last updated 25 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated in line with the removal of self-isolation regulations on 24 February 2022.

  2. Updated following the ending of Plan B Covid regulations on 27 January.

  3. Call-out box added on the lifting of Plan B measures.

  4. Incorporating changes announced by the Prime Minister on 8 December when announcing the implementation of Plan B restrictions.

  5. First published.