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Tory MP Jack Lopresti slapped down by Downing Street after calling for churches to OPEN at Easter

Tory MP Jack Lopresti slapped down by Downing Street after calling for a ‘temporary relaxation’ of coronavirus restrictions to allow churches to OPEN on Easter Sunday

  • Jack Lopresti called for a ‘temporary relaxation of restrictions’ this weekend
  • Worshippers could ‘engage in private prayer whilst observing social distancing’
  • Bristol MP said churches should be treated like vital shops and take-aways

A Tory MP was blasted today for demanding that strict coronavirus distancing rules be relaxed to allow churches to open at Easter.

Jack Lopresti wrote to ministers asking for a ‘temporary relaxation of restrictions’ across Britain to allow worshippers to engage in ‘private prayer’ at the holiest festival in the Christian calendar.

He argued that if people can visit a take-away, off-licence or ‘local shop’ on Easter Sunday they should be allowed to pray.

But Downing Street has warned that there must no easing up of coronavirus restrictions over the Easter weekend. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters today:  ‘The Church of England have themselves spoken about what they will be doing this weekend. 

‘The guidelines which were published three weeks ago were very clear that places of worship shouldn’t open. 

‘The reason those guidelines are in place is to protect the public from the spread of this disease and to save lives.’

Jack Lopresti  (centre) wrote to ministers asking for a ‘temporary relaxation of restrictions’ across Britain to allow worshippers to engage in ‘private prayer’ at the holiest festival in the Christian calendar 

He said: 'I firmly believe a temporary relaxation of restrictions, allowing for people to attend church to engage in private prayer whilst observing social distancing would be an appropriate compromise'

He said: ‘I firmly believe a temporary relaxation of restrictions, allowing for people to attend church to engage in private prayer whilst observing social distancing would be an appropriate compromise’

In his letter to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Mr Lopresti, 50, said:  ‘It is approaching Easter, one of the most important events in the Christian calendar, where Christians celebrate renewal and hope for a brighter future.

Queen breaks with centuries of tradition to send Maundy money by post instead of handing it out personally 

The Queen has been forced to break with centuries of tradition by sending her Maundy money to the elderly by post amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Every year on the day before Good Friday, the Monarch presents elderly members of the Church of England with special ‘Maundy’ coins. 

These specially minted pieces are almost always handed out to worshippers over 70, nominated by local dioceses for their contributions to the church and the community. 

But today they have been delivered by Royal Mail instead of by the Queen herself, who is isolating at Windsor, to protect them all from the deadly virus.  

The eldest of this year’s 188 recipients is Thomas Brock, from Sunbury-on-Thames, who holds the title of oldest active bellringer in the world. 

‘I firmly believe a temporary relaxation of restrictions, allowing for people to attend church to engage in private prayer whilst observing social distancing would be an appropriate compromise.

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

The Church of England has already told parishioners to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus at home.

On its website it says that ‘gatherings, whether indoors or outdoors, cannot take place’.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to deliver his Easter Sunday sermon, traditionally delivered to around 1,500 people at Canterbury Cathedral, from his flat in London, having recorded it on an iPad.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will call for ‘a resurrection of our common life,’ during his Easter Sunday sermon. The message, which will be delivered from the kitchen of the Archbishop’s flat in London, is part of the Church of England’s first national digital service for Easter Sunday. It was recorded on the Archbishop’s iPad.  

The Queen waves to the public as she leaves the Easter Mattins service at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle last year.

The Queen waves to the public as she leaves the Easter Mattins service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle last year.

The Archbishop’s sermon will highlight the astonishing courage of those on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19, saying:  ‘After so much suffering, so much heroism from key workers and the NHS, we cannot be content to go back to what was before as if all is normal. 

‘There needs to be a resurrection of our common life.’ 

The Government is due to carry out the first review next week of the lockdown measures announced last month to curb the spread of the disease.

However, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not contradict a warning by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that there was no possibility of any relaxation of the restrictions at that point.

“What we absolutely need to do now is keep bearing down on the rate of transmission which will mean continuing with social distancing measures to ensure we are protecting the NHS and saving lives,” the spokesman said.

“We are at a critical point in this. That is certainly the case as we approach the Easter bank holiday weekend.”

The spokesman added: “The public response to this has been brilliant. People have made very big sacrifices in the way they live their lives. You are beginning to see the impact that is having but people really do need to stick with it at what is a critical juncture.”

 

 

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