The Catholic  Herald reports –– The bishops’ conference of England and Wales announced today, Wednesday, that, as of Friday evening, there will be no public acts of worship, however churches will remain open for private prayer.

Catholics are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the duration of these measures, however the bishops encouraged them to watch live-streaming of Mass and make a spiritual communion.

The Scottish bishops also announced that public Masses will be suspended as of Thursday, 19 March, but churches will remain open.

“Parish priests are asked to welcome individuals who seek consolation and encouragement from the Lord and to be available for the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion as and when they are needed especially for the sick and housebound,” they added.

The Scottish bishops also said that only close family should attend baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“Duringh these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it,” the English and Welsh bishops said. “The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.”