Last week, schools, cafes, restaurants and shops were ordered to close while mosques and churches across the country also announced they were suspending prayers in congregation following the advice.
Peterborough Cathedral also stopped public worship with immediate effect last week, although the cathedral was open for visitors who wish to come for private prayer or to listen to a service via the speaker system.
However, following the latest measure announced by Boris Johnson, Peterborough Cathedral has taken the decision to now close its doors to visitors and worshippers until further notice.
From now on, private prayer will not be allowed to anyone, including the clergy, who will now be saying the daily services in their own homes.
The Cathedral Office has shut up shop, with staff working from home to maintain essential functions, or placed on furlough.
The grounds of the cathedral will remain open so that individuals or small household groups, arriving on foot, can take a walk for exercise whilst maintaining a safe distance from one another. This excludes the Cloisters, which are also closed.
The cathedral has, until now, been acting as a drop off point for donations of food and other items for the homeless in isolation and the Food Bank. Discussions are taking place with Peterborough City Council, Light Project Peterborough and other agencies to determine how best to continue this work.
More information on this will be posted on the Cathderal Website shortly.
The Very Revd Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said:
“Nothing has prepared us for this emergency, the situation is very fluid and we are having to adapt our way of working day by day as the situation unfolds. The only constant is God’s love for us and we need to do all we can to respond to that by a deep attentiveness to each other’s needs, keeping safe but maintaining contact by every other means possible.
"At the Cathedral we continue to pray, to communicate, to be here. Please keep in touch. With God’s help and an openness to his leading we shall emerge from this time with a new and deeper sense of community and a clearer vision of his call on our lives”
The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield and Chair of Association of English Cathedrals said: “It is with a heavy heart that we close our cathedrals during this crisis as a necessary contribution to keeping all of us healthy and safe. This move goes against our established pattern of being open and available for everyone. It is this openness and accessibility that demonstrates the openness and generosity of God’s welcome and love for all people.
"Yet, when human touch and closeness have become risky and even toxic, it doesn’t mean that God is far away, but that the Church has to find new, creative, and imaginative ways of being available, enabling prayer and worship, and listening carefully to everyone’s needs and questions.
“Cathedrals and churches will be keeping their daily patterns of prayer going. They will be at the heart of local initiatives to serve and meet need. They stand, as they always have done, as silent, but permanent signs of God’s presence alongside us.
“We’ll be using every means to stay in touch with our communities and for people to feel they can access these places of assurance, delight and inspiration.”
People are still encouraged to keep in touch with the cathedral and can do so via email on firstname.lastname@example.org,.