You can find the latest guidance for Churches and places of worship here…

https://​www​.nidi​rect​.gov​.uk/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​c​o​r​o​n​a​v​i​r​u​s​-​c​o​v​i​d​-​19​-​p​l​a​c​e​s​-​w​o​rship

Here is a brief summary of some key points:

Regulations

These are legally regulations which are governed by law:

  • Current permit places of worship to be open for acts of worship (including streaming/​recording of acts of worship, the delivery of services like food banks, addiction counselling etc). 
  • Numbers attending an act of worship can be determined by individual risk assessment. For other activities that are not acts of worship, 6 people from 2 households are permitted. 
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times entering, exiting and while inside the buildings. 
  • Numbers in attendance at weddings and funerals can now be determined by a risk assessment of the premises.

Guidance

The guidance is not legally binding but seeks to help Churches make good decisions that steward their responsibilities well when it comes to public health. Some key points of the guidance are:

  • The importance of basic public health advice like good hand hygiene and social distancing, ventilation, cleaning and clear signage and organisation (staggered leaving, one-way system etc).
  • Rooms used for worship and shared spaces, such as doorways, should therefore be cleaned regularly and following every service. Surfaces such as door handles, tables, seats, handrails and toilets should be cleaned regularly with household detergent. After all necessary cleaning has taken place there should be a minimum 15 minute interval before the next service being held.
  • Contact tracing is not required but helpful.
  • The importance of singing is recognised however the guidance states that communal singing should be avoided if possible, even if social distancing is observed and face-coverings are being used’. The guidance goes on to say

    Whilst singing and chanting is discouraged, if they do occur, make sure it is done as safely as possible by making sure that:

  • singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors
  • performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using microphones for amplification if available
  • limited numbers of people sing together
  • singers are spaced at least two metres apart in all directions (at least one metre apart if the additional measures or controls recommended in government COVID-19 guidance for the performing arts are applied)”
  • Communion should not be shared from a common cup but no special cleaning is required for individual cups, serving plates etc.
  • Baptisms are permitted though steps should be taken to mitigate prolonged close contact.
  • Worshippers should be encouraged to bring their own bibles.
  • Comment

    We have been so encouraged by the gracious response of so many churches throughout this pandemic ever-keen to maintain public worship and witness, serve and bless, while also standing alongside local communities in the pain of lock down at times. Many practical challenges remain for Churches around corporate worship, church life together and acts of witness and service. When it comes to communal singing for instance, churches may reach different decisions on whether or how to do this; the guidance recommends avoiding it if possible however it is permitted and some specific mitigations are listed above. Churches have generally asked for freedom and have largely been granted that freedom, it remains important to navigate wisely the responsibility that goes with it.