Published: 19:17, 22 November 2020
| Updated: 19:20, 22 November 2020
MPs are intensifying calls on the government to swing open church doors amid the pandemic for the Christmas period and beyond.
The five Kent Tories today joined ranks with more than 70 Conservatives in a bid to forge forward with the controversial new measures.
Churches and religious communities have not been spared tighter restrictions during lockdown following the advice of SAGE, the Scientific Advice Group for Emergencies.
In a letter to the Prime Minister Sir Edward Leigh MP said: “The Christmas message of hope is needed more than ever in a year that has brought dark days for so many people.
“This year’s plans have been disrupted by a virus that has already brought so much pain and frustration to people’s lives.
“Something that would bring enormous comfort and joy to millions of Christians in this country is the certainty of being able to go to church this Christmas.”
Current national measures, which ban religious services, are due to expire on 2 December. They fell during the Festival of Diwali and the First Sunday of Advent.
The letter, signed by Craig Mackinlay, Damian Collins, Tracey Crouch, Sir Roger Gale and Tom Tugendhat adds: “We must never again stop people from attending religious services.”
It comes as details are likely to be revealed tomorrow of Covid-19 measures set to be applied across the UK, with infection rates dictating which tier areas are placed into.
But as the national rate begins to fall, the county's continues to soar, rising a worrying 167% to 288 since Boris revealed the country was being shut down for a second time.
Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, told KentOnline there are many “clear nonsenses” in the national lockdown and worshippers are being “insulted.”
“While I certainly do not envy the Prime Minister in having the enormity of dealing with Covid-19 on his shoulders, there are so many clear nonsenses in the current regulations with the treatment of worshippers just one example.
“Congregations that go to churches - as well as worshippers in synagogues, mosques and temples - are adherent, sensible, disciplined people. To treat them as anything but is nothing short of an insult.
“I call on the Prime Minister to allow church services to go ahead this Christmas and beyond.”
The revelation surfaced after a group of church leaders - including a vicar from Tunbridge Wells - launched a claim for judicial review of the English and Welsh governments’ decision to close churches during lockdown.
In total 122 church leaders from many religious traditions have filed the action against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, claiming that the decision to ban worship services during the current lockdown is unlawful.