CARDINAL Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has urged the government not to restrict access to churches.
Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, was speaking to the BBC ahead of midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
New Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far resisted introducing new rules for England.
Latest government figures released on Christmas Eve showed there were 122,186 new Covid-19 cases and 137 deaths within 28 days of a positive test across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
However, Cardinal Nichols told the BBC that airy spaces such as churches were "not places where we spread the virus".
'People are sensible'
"I would sincerely appeal that they do not again consider closing churches and places of worship," he said.
"I think this country has shown that people can make good judgements themselves.
"We're at that point of saying we understand the risk. We know what we should do.
"Most people are sensible and cautious. We don't need stronger impositions to teach us what to do."
From today in Wales, a maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events while the limit for outdoor events is 50.
Meanwhile, people attending weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes are advised to take a lateral flow test beforehand.
Among the new restrictions in Northern Ireland are the closure of nightclubs from today and a ban on indoor standing events.
From tomorrow, hospitality venues in Northern Ireland will have to provide table service only.
Up to six people from six households will be allowed to sit together at a table, but this will not apply to weddings or civil partnership celebrations.
Dancing will not be allowed in hospitality venues either, but again this will not apply to weddings.
Proof of Covid status will remain a requirement to enter hospitality venues and some other indoor settings.