Coronavirus: Jack Lopresti MP calls for churches to open for Easter

coronavirus jack lopresti mp calls for churches to open for easter - Coronavirus: Jack Lopresti MP calls for churches to open for Easter
Image caption Jack Lopresti said people should be able to go into churches for private prayer

An MP has been criticised for calling for churches to reopen for Easter.

Jack Lopresti, the Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, wrote to the housing secretary saying people should be allowed to enter churches “for private prayer”.

He said if people were allowed to visit takeaways or off licences they should be allowed to enter a church.

The Bishop of Bath & Wells, Peter Hancock, said: “As a church we have decided our buildings will be closed.

“Churches continue to care and support the community, but our first thoughts need to be with those doctors and nurses making a sacrifice for us.”

Mr Lopresti wrote to Robert Jenrick, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, to say that while he understood that church services were not practical, it was important that Christians could celebrate the Easter weekend.

“I firmly believe that a temporary relaxation of restrictions, allowing people to attend church to engage in private prayer, while observing social distancing, would be an appropriate compromise,” said Mr Lopresti, who held his seat in the 2019 general election.

“If the government allows for me to go to an off licence, a takeaway or a local shop on Easter Sunday, providing I observe social distancing or take other necessary precautions, why can I not go to a church and say a prayer, providing I do the same?”

Image caption A sign on the door of St Paul’s Church in Southville, Bristol

Responding to Mr Lopresti’s call, the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said “it doesn’t strike me as being very wise”.

“We can be of faith, but still be sensible and I don’t think that’s a sensible move,” he said.

On Twitter, Bath vicar Roger Driver called it the idea “irresponsible”.

Many churches are live streaming services during the coronavirus lockdown and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recorded a Youtube video explaining why churches needed to close to set an example.

Mr Lopresti’s office declined to comment further.

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