Police break up church service and send worshippers home during Wales 'firebreak' lockdown

Ross McGuinness

Watch: The moment police storm church and order worshippers to leave in Wales 'firebreak'

A church service was broken up by police after worshippers were told they were breaking strict coronavirus lockdown rules in Wales.

Officers entered the New Hope Community Church in Llanrumney, Cardiff, on Sunday and sent its congregation home.

Last Friday, Wales went into a short “firebreak” lockdown, under which places of worship must remain closed – apart from weddings and funerals – until 9 November.

The new lockdown has already caused confusion.

On Monday, Tesco was forced to apologise after one of its Welsh stores mistakenly prevented customers from buying tampons and pads, wrongly deeming them “not essential”.

(Wales News Service)
A church service in Wales was broken up by police on Sunday. (Wales News Service)

Last Friday, a family who drove five hours from Sussex in England to Wales were turned away by police because their journey was “non-essential”.

Worshipper Naomi McLennan filmed officers entering the church in Cardiff and a video was uploaded to its Facebook page.

"We are at church right now and the police just showed up,” she said in the video.

"They have knocked on all the windows and the doors, they shined flashlights, so please pray for us right now.

"I'm just letting you know this is happening. This is in Cardiff. We are not even in a third-world country right now, this is in Cardiff."

The video shows a police officer telling the congregation that members of the public have told them about the alleged breach of coronavirus regulations.

One church member says: "This is really strange and, I say it respectfully, we love you guys as police officers and we are not law-breaking people.

"But when they say to us that it is illegal to come and worship our God, this is the West, this isn't a nation somewhere far off somewhere else."

(Wales News Service)
Officers gave worshippers five minutes to finish their prayers before asking them to go home. (Wales News Service)
A police officer stands among the congregation at the church in Cardiff, Wales. (Wales News Service)
A police officer stands among the congregation at the church in Cardiff, Wales. (Wales News Service)

The officer tells churchgoers they should worship at home for the next 17 days until the firebreak "blows over".

Another person in the footage says: "You will be asking us not to believe next.”

But the officer replies: "As a Christian myself, I am not going to do that. I have a Christian family. My own mother is finding other ways to pray."

Church leaders agreed to leave the building after police officers allowed them five minutes to finish their prayers.

A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: "Police attended New Hope Community Church in Ball Road, Llanrumney, on Sunday afternoon, following a report of a COVID-19 breach.

Watch: Tesco blocks customers from buying sanitary products

"Officers followed the policing style which we have adopted throughout the pandemic of explaining the rules and encouraging people to comply.

"Officers moved outside the church to allow five minutes of prayer after which all those present left. No fixed penalty notices were issued.

"We know civil restrictions are frustrating and disheartening for people, but by following them, we can all play a part in protecting our communities and the NHS.”

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