Tell the Covid inquiry how lockdown affected you and your church

5 January 2024

As you may well have seen in the news, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry is now underway and began hearings last year.

The inquiry, which was set up by the government, has a system for collecting individual stories about the impact of Covid on you and others you know.

Everyone has their own personal stories about how the pandemic and government lockdown measures affected them. This is your chance to tell your story to the inquiry. You can also suggest what lessons you believe that the government should learn from what happened during the pandemic.

You can send your story to the inquiry via an online questionnaire.

Remembering the effects of lockdown on Christians

It is worth remembering that while bicycle shops and off-licences were allowed to remain open as ‘essential services’, churches were forced to close. A church could run a foodbank, but if there was a prayer meeting or prayer for someone that would have been breaking the law. Worship services were banned while support groups for “people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender” remained open. The rules were draconian and totalitarian. This was the first time for centuries that meeting to worship the Living God was criminalised in the UK.

Christian Concern issued legal notices to the government challenging the closure of churches as a breach of human rights and of the constitution. When the Scottish Government continued church closures longer than elsewhere, the matter finally reached court where Lord Braid ruled in our favour, saying that the Scottish Ministers’ decision to criminalise church worship was a breach of both the constitution and human rights.

How did this affect you and your church, personally?

There are many other aspects to what happened.

People were not allowed to visit loved ones for vital emotional and social support. Social distancing measures were overzealously applied; even mourners at funerals were stopped from comforting one another. Some people who conscientiously objected to being vaccinated lost their jobs. Police were heavy-handed and draconian in arresting street preachers and others. We became effectively a police state for a time.

Our legal team supported many Christians who wrongly found themselves punished for exercising their God-given freedoms during the restrictions.

There are many lessons we should learn in hindsight from what happened. If you share your story, you can tell the inquiry what lessons the government should learn.

Share your story now.

How to share your story

You will not be asked your name, and you will be asked not to share details that could identify you or others you refer to. The inquiry website says that every story will be collated, analysed and turned into themed reports which will be submitted as evidence to the inquiry.

The first page of the online questionnaire asks what topics best describe what happened, or what is happening for your experience. Tick as many boxes as are relevant to your story.

For example, you may wish to tick one or more of the following boxes:

  • Community, for example, neighbours or places of worship
  • Unfair treatment, for example, inequality, discrimination or harassment
  • Covid testing and vaccinations

Step two asks you three questions about your experience.

First, you are asked to tell the inquiry about your experience. You have up to 50,000 characters to do this, which is more than 7,000 words of average text. Your response can be as short or as long as you like. You may want to use a word processor to prepare your answers to these questions.

Second, you are asked to tell the inquiry about the effect on you and people around you of your experience (max 50,000 characters).

Third, you are asked to tell the inquiry what you think could be learned (max 50,000 characters).

The rest of the questionnaire asks for you to tick boxes for demographic information about you.

Suggested points to make for lessons learned

Depending upon your experience and how it affected you and others around you, you could make some of the following points about lessons to be learned in your own words. You may well have other points you wish to make as well. Please do mention the effect of criminalising Christian worship in your submission.

  • The closure of churches was found to be illegal in Scotland as a breach of both human rights and the constitution. Churches should not be forced to close again in response to health concerns. See details and documents relating to the legal case here.
  • Christian ministry should have been deemed ‘essential’ work during the lockdowns. The criminalising of Christian ministry caused spiritual, emotional, and psychological harm.
  • The police were overly aggressive in arresting people such as street preachers, all of whom were subsequently cleared of any offence. Street preaching is not a health risk to others and the police should not have arrested street preachers during the pandemic.
  • No one should have been forced to take a vaccine on pain of losing their job. This was a clear breach of human rights and should never happen again.
  • The forced closure of schools had a disproportionately negative effect on children who were at very low risk of danger from the virus.

Share your story now.

Find out more about Church lockdown
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