As you will be aware, the Government abolished many of their Covid regulations on 19th July. The following points are how we as a church plan to move forward with our services having taken into account the guidance issued for Places of Worship and the cautious tone of the Government. To this end we have also updated out risk assessment for church services which can be found here.
We will discontinue the booking system which has been used up until now to inform the process of setting out chairs.
We plan to set out approximately 150 red chairs for Sunday services, using a layout similar to the one we used in pre-pandemic times, but with a slightly increased distance between rows if possible. If the number of people attending a service remains at the same level as it has done for the last few weeks, namely 70-80 people, that should mean that we have plenty of scope for keeping some seats vacant as we sit down at the beginning of the service. We don’t want to police this, but we hope that each of us will use common sense and choose to sit at a distance from people in a different household / bubble. It should be possible to sit at a distance from others in your chosen row of seats, and it should also be possible to keep at a distance from your immediate neighbours in the row in front of you and the row behind you.
The government has confirmed that wearing a mask or a face covering is no longer a legal requirement. However, the government’s written guidance for meeting together in an enclosed space – such as a church service – states that mask-wearing is “recommended and expected”, and we think it is appropriate to encourage each other to comply with this. We would hope that everyone in the service will take note of this government guideline and wear a mask, motivated by a love for others and concern for their health and well-being.
We will continue to do our best to make sure the building is well ventilated, with windows open and possibly the doors at the back of the church (leading out to the children’s play area) open as well.
We will resume singing as part of our worship at our next service on Sunday 25th July. We acknowledge that singing whilst wearing masks is not ideal, but we think it is still a step in the right direction. We will continue to end our services with a couple of songs outside, partly because this will encourage us to mingle outside rather than indoors once the service is over.
6. Tea & coffee
We will not serve tea and coffee after services during the summer period
7. Testing and self-isolation:
We would like to reiterate the basic steps about taking responsibility for our own testing and self-isolating when necessary:
- Please do not come to church for a Sunday service (or other church activity) if you have any of the symptoms associated with Covid 19, namely a persistent cough, a change to your sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature. There are additional symptoms that are also worth checking out – including sneezing / a runny nose, sore throat, and headaches – though these seem to vary according to the extent to which you have been vaccinated. If you do experience any of these symptoms, please take a PCR test and stay at home until you get the result.
- We would also encourage everyone to make regular use of the lateral flow tests (available from pharmacies) to reduce the possibility of still coming to church whilst having contracted the virus, perhaps as a result of being asymptomatic. We know that testing is not infallible, but please consider taking a lateral flow test before coming to a service to keep our meetings as safe as possible.
Finally, we want to emphasize our hope that the measures outlined above will be required for the short term only, whilst infection rates remain high. We will continue to review developments, but we are also clear that we still want to aim for a situation which is as close as possible to the kind of worship, fellowship and interaction we enjoyed before the pandemic. We recognize that this is unlikely to be a straightforward journey, but it is one which we can walk together in united dependence on the Lord. The church leadership are very conscious that even though the last 18 months have been extremely challenging as a church we have experienced God’s goodness in many, many ways. As we gradually emerge from lockdown, we want to trust the truth of the Psalmist’s refrain, which we read together on Sunday morning, that “his love endures forever“ and that He will bring us through the current challenges.
22nd July 2021