Archbishop says we can have 'mother and father of parties' after coronavirus crisis

26 March 2020, 09:28

Justin Welby said the country can have the "mother and father of all parties" after the crisis
Justin Welby said the country can have the "mother and father of all parties" after the crisis. Picture: PA

By Tobi Akingbade

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to follow social distancing rules so they can “have the mother and father of all parties” at the end of the coronavirus crisis.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the most senior bishop in the Church of England, also told anyone who is breaking the rules on social distancing to “get your act together”.

In an interview with ITV News at Ten, he added the crisis had caused a surge in attendances to online services with “ten times” as many logging on than those who turned up in person at church.

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He added: “If you are not complying you are risking other people’s lives, not just your own.

"You are risking the health service collapsing. Do it! Stick with the rules!

"The sooner we do that, the sooner we can end this period of deep darkness and we can have the mother and father of all parties at the end of it to celebrate that we have got through it and we have come through as a nation, united as one people – that’s what I am looking forward to."

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He described the decision by the Church of England to halt traditional face-to-face services as "a very difficult day indeed", but added: "We are probably getting ten times as many people online as we had physically coming to the churches."

The Archbishop suggested this reflects a need for the nation to seek "some comfort and hope in these difficult times" and sought to reassure people that God is still "with us" even in our darkest moments.

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Speaking of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Archbishop told the programme: "I think he has risen to the challenge. Nobody is perfect but he is doing a really, really good job and he is caring about the future of this country. Everyone will make mistakes in these circumstances.

"We need to be a forgiving country, understanding that there often are no simple, right answers in fact there are never simple, right answers, in this case."

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This comes as a total of 97,019 people in the UK had been tested with 87,490 negative results, while the number of deaths of UK patients who tested positive for Covid-19 increased from 422 to 465 is a jump of 43.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said a total of 560,000 members of the public have now answered the Government's call for volunteers to aid the NHS.

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Mr Hancock tweeted: "NEWS: Fantastic that 560,000 people have now responded to our call to volunteer to support our NHS to defeat #Coronavirus."

The Archbishop hoped people would continue to call on neighbours, leave food at their doorsteps, maintain social distancing for the vulnerable and send money to food banks, adding “let’s keep doing that and put our differences behind us.”