Southwark Cathedral is set to reopen this weekend after 103 days – the longest closure in its 1,400-year history, writes Kit Heren…
The Church of England cathedral was ordered shut on March 23 this year, along with all other places of worship, to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
All places of worship have been allowed to reopen for private prayer since June 15, but Southwark Cathedral has waited until July 4 to let individual worshippers back in. A spokesperson for the cathedral said that this delay was because they wanted to make sure they could help people feel as safe as possible, rather than rushing to reopen.
Safety measures include a one-way system, a rigorous cleaning regime, and new hand sanitiser points throughout the cathedral. People who want to familiarise themselves with the one-way system can watch a video here.
Public worship is allowed to start again from this Saturday, but Southwark Cathedral has said it is waiting until Monday for its first communal service. Meanwhile the cathedral’s first service on a Sunday, when most churchgoers usually attend, will only take place on July 19.
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said: “I am delighted that Southwark Cathedral, the mother church of our Diocese, is now able to re-open its doors to the public. It is right that people can now come to offer their personal prayers and once again be able to join together in public worship in this sacred space.”
The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said “We are looking forward to being able to open our doors and to welcome people back into our beautiful building to find space to pray privately and individually and to join in a limited amount of amount of public. We will also be continuing to offer services online while we still have to limit the number of people that can enter”.
Like many churches, Southwark Cathedral has been live streaming services on its Facebook page during coronavirus lockdown.