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Guidance for reopening Churches

Back to new Normal


Guides from Bishop Swarbick.

Detailed instructions on opening churches will be given when that time is appropriate. That is when the guidelines have been agreed by the Government and the Bishops’ Conference. At present, there is a multifaith task force, including the Cardinal, working with the Government on this matter. 

In the meantime, if you have not done so already, parishes are advised to consider making purchases, individually or collectively, of supplies that will be required. The recommended essentials are: 
• Supplies of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and appropriately measured dosing/dispensing pumps (if needed). Sanitiser should be at least 65% alcohol. 
• Supplies of disinfectant suitable for cleaning church surfaces. Also, please be aware of what effect such products, such as bleached-based ones, may have on surfaces. 
• Supplies of cleaning materials, including disposable cloths, gloves and aprons for those who clean. As yet, surgical facemasks have not be specified, but may be considered for cleaners’ use. 
• Spray bottles suitable for decanting and diluting disinfectant chemicals (only where this is safe to do) 
• Paper handtowels and liquid soap for the sacristy and/or other hand wash stations. 
• Sufficient bin bags to ‘double-bag’ refuse. 
• Floor Marking Tape to mark off appropriate distances on the floor and on benches. 
• Appropriate materials for signage such as: “please sanitise your hands,” “entrance”, “exit”, “do not touch” etc, these can be home made. I recognise there may be some challenges in purchasing some of these items. 

Although you may have your own regular supplier, I am informed that Church Marketplace are endeavouring to establish reliable supply chains for the various supplies that churches will need as they re-open. Demand for all items is expected to be high as businesses etc. re-open, so an early order can only help. 
A second supplier is https://clinicalrestore.co.uk/ which has indicated it can supply chemicals and PPE, as well as providing other advanced services, if ever needed. 

A benefit of bulk-purchasing chemicals from reputable suppliers is that containers will have relevant COSHH safety information on them. Smaller premises may be able to use disinfectants obtained from supermarkets, though these must be anti-viral, not just anti-bacterial. Please be aware that full compliance with established procedures will be a requirement for clergy and all volunteers. 
Opening churches must be safe and be shown to be safe. The openings will most likely be in stages until normality returns. I appreciate that some clergy may be a little concerned about re-opening their church doors, even for private prayer. It is important that you do not feel overly-pressured when this begins to happen, remembering that lay volunteers should be able to assist and hopefully organise this with you. At present it is very important that we do not make any changes to the practice of churches being closed to the public. 
It may be advisable initially to restrict the opening hours and days so that we can gradually increase safer access to the Blessed Sacrament. 

This is not the first time in the Church’s history that she has had to live with the difficulties of widespread public health issues. We can draw comfort and inspiration from the resilience shown by our predecessors. In our approach to our present difficulties let us draw practical and spiritual inspiration from those who have served Christ generously. Do please continue to look after each other.

Safety check approved