The bells of York Minster will be silent this New Year’s Eve because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chapter of York confirmed the news today (Monday).
Forcing the bells to fall silent for the first time in living memory is the last change wrought by the virus in York in 2020.
The decision has been taken to conform with guidelines designed to prevent gatherings in order to control the spread of the Covid-19 infection.
Recent Government guidance and direction from the Central Council of Bell Ringing gives exceptional permission for bell ringing at places of worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day only.
The Tier 2 restrictions in York, allow only six bells to be rung at York Minster on those two days, but ringing on New Year’s Eve is not permitted.
The Revd Canon Vicky Johnson, Canon Precentor, at York Minster, said: “The automatic chimes on the Minster’s Great Peter Bell will be switched off as normal from 8pm until 8am. This most unusual and difficult year will draw to a very quiet close.
“The Minster will be quiet and still on New Year’s Eve.
“So for this year, we’re asking everyone not to gather at the Minster or elsewhere in the city. Please stay safe and celebrate the New Year at home with your loved ones.
“We must then all hope and pray that 2021 will be a better and kinder year.”
Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, York and Selby Commander at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Many of us will be welcoming the end of 2020 and be looking to 2021 with a sense of optimism and hope that we can soon return to normal life.
“The best way we can start the New Year is to do so safely and securely. The Christmas exemption period will finish on 27 December and tier restrictions around gathering in and outdoors and hospitality closing times will be back in place.
“Our local policing teams will be patrolling York city centre over the festive period, to ensure everyone enjoys the city safely. They will be following our usual approach of engaging with the public, explaining the health regulations and encouraging people to adhere to the restrictions and using enforcement powers when necessary and proportionate to do so.
“After the year we’ve all had, I’m sure everyone will want to start 2021 on a positive note, so facing a £200 fine would not be a great way to begin the new year. Please ensure that however you choose to see in 2021, it’s in a safe and responsible way and in line with the tier restrictions.”