Murdo Fraser MSP accuses Scottish Government of putting 'pints over prayer'

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has accused the Scottish Government of prioritising ‘pints over prayer’ with no set date given for places of worship to re-open.

The politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, has submitted a written question at Parliament to ask the Scottish Government for what reason hospitality venues will be permitted to open to the public in July, but not places of worship.

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon provided indicative dates for part of phase 3 of the lockdown exit plan, which stated that pubs with beer gardens can re-open from July 6, and indoor areas of pubs can re-open from July 15.

However, there was no mention of when places of worship can re-open, and Mr Fraser feels this is an issue that needs addressed immediately.

Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “It is extraordinary that pubs will be re-opening around the country on July 15 but you still won’t be able to go places of worship – whether this is a church, mosque or synagogue.

“This seems a very strange set of priorities by the Scottish Government and gives the impression they are prioritising pints over prayers.”

He continued: “I’m sure many residents in Perthshire and Fife will agree with me that thousands of people find solace, peace, and companionship in joining with others in worship, and faith is important to many of us, especially during unprecedented times as we are going through just now with Covid-19.

“I totally agree with comments issued on June 29 by the Catholic Church in Scotland, who have said they find the delay in re-opening places of worship ‘disappointing’ and ‘perplexing.’

“I know churches have been allowed to open for private prayer and funerals with social distancing measures in place since June 22. However, the Scottish Government need to explain why people will be able to gather in pubs but not in places of worship next month.”

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