Johnson says synagogues reopening and weddings permitted, as Chief Rabbi and Board urge caution

Boris Johnson made the announcement in an address to the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon


Prayer services and weddings will be allowed to go ahead from July 4 in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Tuesday as Jewish leadership urged caution.

Mr Johnson said that places of worship would be greenlit to reopen for services and that weddings be allowed, provided that social distancing is respected, and attendance is limited to a maximum of thirty.

Addressing the Commons, Mr Johnson said: “I know that many have mourned the closure of places of worship and this year, Easter, Passover and Eid, all occurred during the lockdown.”

“I am delighted that places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services, including weddings with a maximum of thirty people all subject to social distancing,” he continued.

Outdoor weddings have been permitted in Northern Ireland since June 8 and are permitted by no more than ten people, while Wales greenlit small wedding ceremonies on June 22.

Mr Johnson also confirmed that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers would be permitted to reopen from July 4 and said that the two-metre social distancing rule was being replaced by one metre.

The Prime Minister warned that each step in the easing of the coronavirus lockdown was “conditional and reversible”.

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement, but said that “return to congregational activity will, of course, be as cautious as is necessary to protect our communities.”

Rabbi Mirvis has previously said that United Synagogues may remain closed for longer than is mandated by government regulations and noted in his statement that “further guidance would be available in the coming days.”

He added that: “It is a cause for additional celebration that couples, some of whom have to wait for several months, will now be able to marry.”

Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board of Deputies, welcomed the announcements but urged caution.

Ms van der Zyl said: “on the day that we reveal that the total number of deaths in the Jewish community has reached 500, we would urge people to proceed with caution and stick within the Government's guidelines to ensure there is no second spike in cases."

The Board said that it held meetings with Downing Street and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that Jewish perspectives – especially acute within the Charedi community – on permitting wedding was taken in account during the decision-making to ease the lockdown.

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