Latest Covid-19 Guidance from the Conference of Bishops 19th July 2021
GUIDANCE FROM THE CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS 19th JULY
Hand sanitising and face covering
Churches should continue to provide hand sanitiser at entrances and exits and face coverings are strongly recommended to be worn by those in church. General cleaning to a good standard, using commonly available cleaning fluids and detergents, with attention to frequent touchpoints is the standard to continue. This is consistent with the advice from Public Health England. While the virus can land on surfaces and can infect people if they touch those surfaces and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes, this risk is significantly lower than the risk from aerosol or droplet spread which is mitigated against with good ventilation and a face covering.
There are key actions which churches and parishes have been doing, and should continue to do, even after 19th July which significantly reduce this risk.
Social Distancing and Capacity of Churches
From 19th July, there will be no legislation on social distancing in England, and thus churches may increase their capacity. Care has to be taken to ensure that churches continue to be places where people feel safe to gather to worship.
Indoor congregational singing will be permitted from 19th July. The use of cantor groups and other choirs is now permitted. It is recommended that singing should be phased in gently as part of worship over the summer period and that face coverings should be worn by members of the congregation whilst singing together until infection levels reduce.
Opening of Churches
Churches can be left open and unsupervised for individual prayer during times when there are no public acts of worship. QR codes (or other means of attendee identification) should be clearly signposted at entrances and those entering encouraged to use them for test, track and trace purposes. Hand sanitiser should still be made prominently available for people to use.
One-way systems and movement of people
It is no longer necessary to have one-way systems or other restrictions on movement in churches from this time onward. People should exercise good responsible behaviour especially when moving to receive Holy Communion during Mass and should avoid getting too close to each other.
At this time, it is not recommended that Holy Water stoups are refilled. Should people wish to receive holy water, it is recommended that a container with a tap is provided so that small bottles can be filled which can then be taken home.
Celebration of Mass
All usual ministers for the celebration of Holy Mass can be deployed such as servers, cantors, readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
The offertory collection can be resumed in church with baskets and pouches, however, it is encouraged to promote online or contactless giving in the churches if possible
It is recommended that the physical Sign of Peace remain suspended as it is not an integral part of the Mass, and its omission will help to reduce physical contact between people during the celebration.
Holy Communion will continue to be under one kind and the ministers will continue to sanitise their hands beforehand and wear a face covering whilst distributing. Communion is recommended to be distributed in the hand but those who wish to receive on the tongue may do so. There should be care on the part of the minister to avoid physical contact with the hand or the tongue of the communicant when distributing Holy Communion. In the event of contamination the minister should sanitise their hands before further distribution.
Parish social activities can be resumed from 19th July. It is strongly recommended that a risk assessment for both the activity and the space is completed for the gathering.
Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals
While safety procedures remain in place, there is now no restriction on numbers at Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals. Baptisms involving multiple families and children should be avoided for now.
Extracted from Covid-19 Route Map: Step 4 Guidance Conference of Bishops of England & Wales