“Without roots which are nurtured and healthy, these qualities will disappear and we will revert to the ‘old normal’ in which priority is given to the individual, in which any notion of an underlying intrinsic order is dismissed in favour of ‘freedom’, in which dependence is abhorred, in which the giant enterprises of governance and enterprise pay scant attention to the local.

“This is why our churches must be opened, so that these well-springs of our common good may play their part in the reshaping of our ‘new normal’.”

The earliest date on which places of worship could reopen is July 4 if the country moves from step four to step three on the Government’s five-point scale. However, even then religious institutions will need to implement special measures in order to ensure social distancing.

Responding to the comments, Mr Jenrick said: “I understand just how difficult it is for people of faith not to be able to worship.┬áThat’s why we are working with in partnership with faith leaders, through our taskforce, to develop guidance to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship.

“Getting our places of worship safely open is a priority for me as Communities Secretary, and this commitment is shared across the Government. We will issue the necessary guidance as soon as possible and ensure places of worship have sufficient time to put measures in place to safely welcome worshippers back as soon as possible.”

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