A church in southwest London has accused the Metropolitan Police of “brutally exceeding their powers” after officers shut down a Good Friday service for allegedly breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Worshippers on the Christ the King church, a Roman Catholic place of worship in Balham that caters to the world’s Polish group, had been marking Easter when police broke up the service at 6pm.
Footage from the Liturgy of the Lord’s Ardour service confirmed officers strolling as much as the pulpit and inform worshippers to disperse, warning they confronted £200 fines or arrest for breaking lockdown guidelines.
Church companies are allowed to proceed with out limits on the variety of attendees throughout England’s lockdown, so long as social distancing will be noticed with both two-metre areas between worshippers or one metre the place masks are worn.
The Metropolitan Police stated officers from Wandsworth borough attended the scene following reviews of huge numbers queueing outdoors the constructing.
A spokesperson added: “Officers attended and located a lot of individuals contained in the church. Some individuals weren’t sporting masks and people current have been clearly not socially distanced.
“We’re notably involved in regards to the danger of transmission of the Covid-19 virus on account of giant indoor gatherings at which persons are not socially distanced and a few will not be sporting masks. As such officers made the choice that it was not protected for that specific service to proceed.
“Understanding the sensitivity of the scenario, officers engaged with the priest outdoors the church and have been invited inside to handle the congregation. No fastened penalty notices have been issued.”
They added the drive was conscious of upcoming occasions scheduled on the church over the Easter interval, and could be participating with church authorities within the coming days.
Nonetheless, the church stated it believed it had held the occasion in accordance with lockdown guidelines.
It famous in an announcement that “the trustworthy obeyed … with out objection” when police ordered them to go away, however added: “We consider, nevertheless, that the police brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good cause, as all authorities necessities have been met.
“The newest authorities tips of March 26, 2021 and the Episcopal Convention of England and Wales on the expertise of Holy Week, clearly enable – with all sanitary guidelines – to be celebrated in locations of worship with the participation of the trustworthy.
“All scheduled rites of Dedication of Easter, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday will happen within the order indicated. We ask everybody to look at the present sanitary necessities within the Church and the area of social life, and to hope that such conditions is not going to be repeated.”
Labour MP Rosena Allin Khan, whose Tooting constituency encompasses the church, stated she was “deeply involved” by reviews the service had been disbanded.
“Being of Polish heritage, I perceive the sanctity of this present day”, she stated. “Little doubt this was deeply distressing. My ideas can be with you this Easter weekend.
“I’ve spoken with the Metropolitan Police and am assured the police are working with the priest and the broader group on this matter, with church classes having resumed as we speak.
“With the vaccine rollout nicely underway, it’s simple to overlook the necessity for these tips. Nonetheless please do proceed to observe social distancing measures with a view to hold ourselves and one another protected.”