Tory MP criticised for calling for churches to re-open for Easter despite coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:58 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 19:56 09 April 2020

Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has been criticised for calling to re-open churches for Easter, despite the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: House of Commons

Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has been criticised for calling to re-open churches for Easter, despite the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: House of Commons

Archant

A Conservative MP has been criticised for calling to re-open churches for Easter, despite the government urging people to stay home over the holiday.

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Jack Lopresti requested a relaxation of government’s strict social distancing rules so worshipers can visit a church this bank holiday.

The Tory MP, who is married to Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns and has a child nicknamed ‘Brexit Clifford’, has argued that if members of the public can visit an off licence, takeaway or local shop on Easter Sunday they should be allowed to engage in prayer.

In his letter to communities secretary Robert Jenrick, Filton and Bradley Stoke, Lopresti wrote: “It is approaching Easter, one of the most important events in the Christian calendar, where Christians celebrate renewal and hope for a brighter future. “I firmly believe a temporary relaxation of restrictions, allowing for people to attend church to engage in private prayer whilst observing social distancing would be an appropriate compromise.

“If the government allows me to go to an off licence, a takeaway, or a local shop on Easter Sunday, provided I observe social distancing or take other necessary precautions why can I not go to church and say a prayer, providing I do the same?”


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Hours before the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, called for churches to remain closed.

Twitter users were baffled by his calls, especially as his own Twitter account had been decorated with the “stay home, save lives” messaging.

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“Says the man with STAY HOME SAVE LIVES next to his name,” noted Julian Shea.

“Open the churches for Easter and give people Covid-19”, replied Mike Harding.

“Why do our elected politicians hate us so much?” asked another.

“Typical tory muddled thinking and mixed messaging”, said @jazzaoxon.

“Causing unnecessary deaths isn’t very Christian is it,” tweeted Kate Wilton.

The prime minister’s official spokesman distanced the government from the MP’s comments. It again issued a warning that there will be no easing of restrictions.

They said: “The Church of England have themselves spoken about what they will be doing this weekend.

“The guidelines which were published three weeks ago were very clear that places of worship shouldn’t open.

“The reason those guidelines are in place is to protect the public from the spread of this disease and to save lives.”

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