Churches in Wales warned not to play the organ in fear of spreading coronavirus

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Church organs should not to be played over fears it could spread coronavirus, according to guidance from the Welsh Government.

Conservative Senedd member, Darren Millar, has said congregations and organists are "up in arms" about the Wales-only organ ban. The MS for Clwyd West said he was baffled by the "bizarre" decision. Mr Millar said: "As pipe organs do not require the use of human breath it does seem very odd that places of worship in Wales, unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, are prohibited from using them for worship."Hopefully, they will come to their senses soon and lift this ridiculous ban."This matter was brought to my attention by a minister in my constituency, who is completely perplexed by the ban. He told me that church members and organists are up in arms."It was the first I had heard of it. There has been no vote on the issue and I simply cannot understand why it has been imposed."Mr Millar said he had written to the Welsh Government asking them to explain what was going on.

The Welsh Government confirmed its stance on church organs but described it as "guidance".A spokesman said: "Singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of wind instruments and organs that require air to be pushed through the mechanism should be specifically avoided."This is because there is a possible additional risk of infection in environments where individuals are singing or chanting as a group, and this applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used."It is advised that you use alternative instruments such as a piano, electronic instruments or recordings."But it said a pipe organ could be used for practice or maintenance if a building was closed.A Church in Wales spokesperson said: "Organs, other than electronic, cannot at this time be played as part of public opening, services, marriages or funerals."We are lobbying for a change in this provision."

The guidance is not applicable to the rest of the UK.