120 people attended church or place of worship with Covid in Scotland
A total of 120 Scots attended at church or other places of worship while infectious with coronavirus, the latest weekly figures have shown.
Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, revealed the total to a Holyrood committee as he insisted the decision to bar people from attending daily religious services in person was the “right thing to do”.
As mainland Scotland went back into lockdown, places of worship are now only permitted to conduct weddings or funerals – with the number of people attending at these strictly limited – and to broadcast services online.
With people still able to attend for religious services in England, Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have branded the restriction as “arbitrary and unfair”.
Prof Leitch told MSPs on the Covid-19 committee: “At this point in the pandemic, I think it is the right thing to do.”
He stated: “In last week’s Test and Protect data, 120 people went to places of worship during their infectious period – 120 people.
“That creates a risk I am unwilling to take in the advice I give to the decisionmakers.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said places of worship had been included in the latest lockdown, which was brought in to try to curb the new, faster spreading strain of Covid-19, because of the “potential for the virus to spread” at services.
He told the committee: “Sadly and regrettably, and very much to my personal regret, that cannot exclude places of worship, because we have to acknowledge places of worship are places where people come together, there is the potential for the virus to spread.
“This is about protecting the public from a very serious virus and making sure that places of worship are able to play their part in that effort.”
Conservative MSP Gordon Lindhurst insisted, however, that being able to attend religious services was a “fundamental human right”.
He told Mr Swinney: “Here in Scotland the First Minister and your government have set out regulations which entirely curtail that fundamental right
“Constituents have contacted me, upset and very concerned about this.”
The Deputy First Minister responded: “Nobody in the Government wants to restrict anybody’s ability to take part in communal religious worship, it is the last thing on earth I want to do.”
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