The acting Bishop of Chelmsford has welcomed the announcement that churches will be able to re-open for public worship for the first time since March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that church buildings will be allowed to re-open for public worship from Saturday, providing social distancing remains in place.

The Right Rev Peter Hill, the acting Bishop of Chelmsford, said the move marks an “important step” in allowing sacred space for people and communities.

He said: “This is very welcome news and marks another important step on the journey towards us being together in our sacred spaces for prayer, worship and to serve our communities.

“As always it is important to make clear that this is permissive guidance and not an expectation that all churches will be able to open for public worship from July 4.

“We recognise that for many, this will not be possible to do, whilst ensuring that the necessary safety measures are put in place.

“Indeed, it will not be possible for any church to return to the normality of the pre-Covid-19 world at present.”

Weddings will also now be able to take place with a limit of 30 people, provided they maintain social distancing.

Mr Hill said: “We must continue to take seriously our responsibility to keep people safe from infection, particularly the vulnerable in our communities.

“Online worship and serving our communities in different ways than we did before the pandemic will continue to be important in the weeks and months ahead.

“We hope that for many these new approaches will continue to be part of their practice in the long term alongside worship in our church buildings.

“We must build on the lessons we have learned and the progress we have seen in recent months.”

Churches across Essex will be continuing online services alongside worship inside church buildings.

To find out details about your local online service, go to