Preparations are underway at Exeter Cathedral to re-open its doors and welcome people back into the building for private prayer and reflection.
The Government had announced that all places of worship could open for supervised private prayer from June 15 in line with Government and Public Health social distancing guidelines to ensure people’s safety. Although on Thursday this date was revised to Saturday June 13, Exeter Cathedral will still remain closed until Monday.
The Dean of Exeter, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, said that preparations were taking place to allow the Cathedral to open its doors once more, but that the historic building would not open until it was safe to do so.
“There is much to be done, and while we long to open our doors again, and welcome back those who wish to light a candle, say a prayer or reflect on these unprecedented times, we must ensure the safety and wellbeing of all – the public, our worshippers, visitors, staff and volunteers.”
New measures to keep people safe will include limiting the number of people allowed inside at any one time, hand sanitisers at appropriate points, and new signage to remind people of the health and safety around social distancing.
Monday will mark the first phase of reopening for the Cathedral. The Café, Shop and the toilets will not be open at this time and will be part of a later phase.
The Cathedral closed its doors on March 23 due to the lockdown. Since that time it has continued to serve the community with a broad range of online and telephone support groups, daily live streaming services, choral scholars performing from home, children’s activities and e-newsletters.
However the closure has resulted in significant financial losses for the Cathedral, and an urgent fundraising campaign has been launched As the Dean explains,
“Exeter Cathedral is facing major financial challenges because of the coronavirus crisis. We started the year with a balanced budget, but now can expect virtually no commercial income from visitors, events, our café or our shop. This is forcing us to review every aspect of Cathedral life to see where savings can be made, and is encouraging us to find new income sources, including grants, and a broad appeal across Devon asking people to support their Cathedral through these difficult times.”