Calls for “sensible exceptions” to the rules have been backed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, as well as the Catholic Church.
In an eleventh-hour plea for the Government to U-turn on its decision to allow World War Two veterans to gather inside for memorial services, Lord Carey, 84, warned that Sunday may be the last day for many to pay their respects to fallen comrades.
In accordance with the current lockdown rules, places of worship are closed for communal prayer during the four-week lockdown, unless they are being used for funerals, individual prayer, formal childcare or other essential voluntary and public services such as support groups.
However, Lord Carey has pleaded with the Government to allow special dispensation for veterans during Remembrance Sunday services, so they do not need to stand outside in the cold.
He told The Telegraph: “Even at this late hour, the Government should make sensible exceptions to allow veterans, some of whom may not see another Remembrance Sunday, to attend a service in small numbers in a Covid-secure church.
“I’m not in favour of special pleading for church worship during this public health emergency, but surely we can find ways to honour those who have given so much to their country.”
Other leading religious figures also spoke out on the issue and said that places of worship which have been made Covid-secure could accommodate veterans.
Bishop Paul Mason, Catholic Bishop of the Forces, added: “Places of worship and public worship are Covid secure. Remembrance Sunday services could take place inside our churches and cathedrals.
“We petition the Government for an exemption to hold Remembrance Sunday services in our places of worship. If this exemption is not granted, we will of course follow the Government regulations.”
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who was the Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England from 1994 to 2009, and who is now director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue, agreed.
He said: “I don’t think veterans, some of whom may be elderly or disabled, should be made to stand in the cold.
“Nor should those who attend with them, whether spouses, children or grandchildren. In fact, if people can pray individually in church, whilst safe distancing, why should they not pray together, especially at a time like Remembrance.
“I do hope we will be able to remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country in a worthy manner.”