Churches in Northern Ireland are set to close following the announcement of a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown. The Stormont Executive announced yesterday that strict new measures will be introduced from 27 November, including the closure of non-essential retail, close-contact services, leisure and entertainment services, and places of worship. Garden centres and off-licences will remain open, however. This means churches will be unable to open for public worship, and will only be permitted to open for weddings, funerals and to record or broadcast “an act of worship”. The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster expressed his disappointment at the decision. He said: “I’m sure that all of us understand the difficult job that politicians have during the current pandemic as they work to save lives and protect public health. As Christians we ought to pray for those ruling over us, but the blanket closure of church services is a cause for concern. “Public worship is not an activity just like going to the cinema or having a meal in a restaurant. The Bible commands Christians to assemble together to worship God.