A MINISTER has outlined the difficulties churches have been facing during the coronavirus pandemic.

St Mary’s Parish Church announced it was reopening its doors, between set times, last week.

The pandemic had seen the doors of the historic church closed since March, with members of the congregation instead able to view services online or by phoning a specific number.

The Rev Alison McDonald has been minister at St Mary’s in Haddington for nearly a year.

In the church’s newsletter, she was pleased to say the building was now able to open its doors for small funerals and personal prayers for the first time in more than three months.

She said: “Although we know it has been necessary, having to close our church has been very hard and even more so while we have been living through such difficult times.

“In all areas of life, however, it’s clear that emerging from lockdown is more complex than going into it; this means that opening our church doors is not as simple as it sounds.

“A small team has been working very hard looking at the detailed guidance and comprehensive health and safety measures which we must put in place before opening and keep in place once we are open.

“We are very fortunate in St Mary’s to have people who are able to do this.

“This means that our doors are only open twice a week. The restricted times are due to the strict cleaning required and the length of time we are advised to leave between each opening.”

A one-way system has been created in the church, with people entering by the north door and leaving by the west door.

The church is now open 2-4pm on a Sunday and 5-7pm on a Wednesday, with people visiting asked to wear a face covering.

Meanwhile, a recent Scottish Government announcement allowed churches to open for congregational worship from Wednesday.

A statement on St Mary’s website says: “The task group will be considering the guidance with a view to making recommendations to our Kirk Session. This is likely to involve many decisions.

“As always, the safety of our St Mary’s family is most important and the Kirk Session takes its responsibility of care very seriously.

“We ask for your patience and understanding as we consider what needs to be done and also what our worshipping community needs to do to keep everyone safe.”