THE Diocese of Chester has given its backing to the Government's decision to close all places of worship and put restrictions on funerals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chester Cathedral and church buildings across the diocese are now closed to all forms of worship, including private prayer and reflection, weddings, and baptisms.

Funerals can still go ahead but within strict limits with only immediate family in attendance and essential physical distancing measures in place.

Commenting on the decision, The Acting Bishop of Chester, Keith Sinclair said: "It is a regrettable but necessary step and I am in full support of the decision from the UK Government.

"We must do all that we can to stem the spread of coronavirus across our nation."

In the coming days, Chester Cathedral and the Diocese of Chester will seek ways in which they can reach out to people through prayer and social media.

Bishop Keith added: “The church of Jesus Christ is never closed, the Church continues to be alive and active: the doors are closed but our hearts are open to the new possibilities of reaching out to our communities through prayer, social media and innovation. This is a crisis in our time, but in God I trust.”

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester said: "In these unprecedented days that means limiting our contact with others for a season to cut transmission of a deadly virus.

"It is with regret that we must close Chester Cathedral to individuals who would otherwise want to come here for prayer and reflection. We hope you will join your prayers with ours from home.

"In the meantime, we will ensure that you can join with the prayers of the community that lives here, on the internet at”