The guidance that churches must close completely was given on March 23 in response to the outbreak and has been reviewed “on an ongoing basis”, with the Bishops acting “within Government advice and in line with best public health practice”.
The policy attracted protests, including a letter published in The Times and signed by more than 600 clergy and laity.
Last month, The Telegraph reported that some vicars were rebelling against guidance issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury ahead of the Easter weekend, warning clergy that they could not enter churches for solo prayer nor to film a service, despite provisions for this in the Government’s lockdown rules.
The Most Rev Justin Welby used a YouTube message to echo the first Government slogan repeated during the daily ministerial press conferences on coronavirus, saying it was vital that the church “set an example” in following the guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“By closing the churches, we make a powerful symbol of the need to listen to that message,” he said. Some vicars responded by saying: “Now is the time to revolt.”
The Rt Rev Cottrell will become the 98th Archbishop of York and the Church of England’s second most senior clergyman.
In December it was announced that he would take over from Dr John Sentamu when he retires on June 7.