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Fears over rising Covid numbers prompts the cancellation of the historic Kirking of the Council due to happen on Sunday by Highland Council

By Scott Maclennan

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The last Kirking of the Council ceremony happened in 2019.
The last Kirking of the Council ceremony happened in 2019.

Concerns about rising Covid infection numbers have led to the annual Kirking of the Council parade and church service on Sunday being cancelled.

It is the second year the event has not gone ahead due to the pandemic with the leader of the council Margaret Davidson saying it a “great shame.”

The historic Kirking of the Council was being planned to take place in a smaller and revised format with a reduced parade and Kirking service at Ness Bank Church led by the Rev. Fiona Smith.

But with schools in crisis with more than 1000 pupils and 150 staff self-isolating, the local authority said it was taking a “precautionary approach” by cancelling the event.

Now other similar public gatherings will be reviewed, based on a risk assessment and taking into account advice from Public Health and Environmental Health.

Councillor Davidson said: “We were due to have the Kirking of the Council at the weekend but we had to cancel that because it is just not appropriate to have lines of people along the streets and indoor church services.

“That is a great shame, it is a real tradition, we missed it last year and we were really looking forward to getting it this year but we pulled it because of the infection rate this year and we don’t want to be spreading it.

“People are being very sensible by and large and I am seeing more people using masks and I am sure they are hand washing and sanitizing and people are taking social responsibility and they don’t want to go back into lockdown, that is for sure.

The Provost and leader of Inverness and area Cllr Helen Carmichael said: “The Kirking of the Council is a long-held city tradition and it is with great regret that we have decided, with the agreement of church leaders, to cancel this year’s Kirking parade and church service.

“This decision does not diminish our commitment to the value of this much loved and respected annual event.

"We feel that this is the only sensible decision to take while Covid rates are extremely high at the present time.”

Related Story – Highland Council leader issues plea to the First Minister over guidance on large gatherings amid surging Covid cases

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