Guidance for of Churches:
Guidelines December 2021
Relaxation in May 2021
- There is some relaxation in the use of the confessional – as long as it is well-ventilated and a barrier/screen is in place.
- Funerals - mourners can attend up to the church’s safe capacity. The 30 person rule is dropped.
- Singing; use of holy water stoups; Communion under both kinds; sign of peace – no change at the present time.
- Offertory procession can take place.
- Communion in the hand recommended; however, Communion on the tongue can take place, so long as those who wish to receive on the tongue are at the back of the queue. Not recommended if there is a local surge in infections.
- Sunday collection may take place with volunteers holding the basket and moving around church (but not baskets passed-around the congregation).
- Baptisms – standalone baptisms with up to 30 persons can take place.
- Weddings – up to 30 persons present (30 includes the couple, but not anyone ‘working’ at the event).
- Use of face coverings remains a legal requirement at the present time.
- Stewarding requirement dropped for weekday Mass and private prayer. Stewards only needed on Sundays and major services (and possibly larger funerals).
- Track and Trace remains in place, though on weekdays, those visiting church need to take personal responsibility for signing-in.
- Some flexibility in the assessment of safe capacity of a church (e.g. possible to safely drop to 1m+ with mitigation, though some smaller churches have been doing this for a while).
- A reasonable number of home visits per day with Holy Communion can take place, including by extra-ordinary ministers.
- Ensure the NHS QR code is displayed at your church hall, or ensure user groups keep a track and trace record of attendees. Note that not all activities are permitted just yet.
- Funerals - you may wish to consider that your safe number for funerals might be lower than your normal Sunday safe number. This is because those regularly attending Sunday Mass are well-familiar with the covid-security rules and the layout of the church. Mourners are also likely to be greeting one another both inside and outside, especially if they haven’t seen each other for a long time. Together with the funeral director and family, you will need to design a mechanism to ensure attendance doesn’t go beyond your safe capacity (e.g. a guest list or seating plan).
- 1 metre plus - If you are dropping from 2m+ with mitigation to 1m+ with mitigation, please advise parishioners of this a week or so before implementation. A cleaning schedule still needs to be in place.
- You can get free testing kits. Consider use of these before home visits
- We are asked to assess risk ‘dynamically’, i.e. taking into account local conditions. The so-called ‘Indian variant’ is of concern in parts of the north west at the present time.
- Whilst the C.B.C.E.W. guidance references possible re-commencement of social activities, please read government guidance carefully. For example, the re-introduction of coffee after Sunday Mass for a large group indoors would not appear to be permitted at the present time, unless there is at-table service for groups of no more than six persons/two households on a table, as per the rules for hospitality venues.
- See also ‘England - Summary table of Covid 19 restrictions’ in Safetytoolbox's resources section.
Canon Paul Embery V.G.