Following the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to extend the current Covid–19 restrictions to Thursday 1st April 2021, representatives of the Churches met earlier this week with Ministers from the Executive Office, the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer. At that meeting the Chief Medical Officer stressed that it would make a significant difference and be of huge benefit to public health and safety, if churches were willing to continue, for the time being, not to gather in–person for services and other meetings.

The Church of Ireland, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, and in a modified form the Roman Catholic Church have agreed that all in-person Sunday gatherings for worship, along with all other in-person church gatherings, will remain voluntarily suspended for the time being in Northern Ireland until Thursday 1st April 2021. Exceptions are for weddings, funerals, arrangements for recording and/or live-streaming, drive-in services, and private prayer (as allowed by the regulations).

This voluntary suspension will be looked at again after the next review of the current lockdown provisions on Thursday 18th March. There is cautious optimism that services may resume on Good Friday (2nd April) recognising the importance of Easter. However, watch this space as nothing is certain.