Covid 19 Update – Suspension of Services from Sunday 9th August.
On Friday 31st July the Government announced that wearing face coverings will be mandatory in places of worship from 8th August. One of the key parts of reopening our churches was the legal requirement for us to conduct a Risk Assessment and to make provision to ensure the safety of those attending services. The new legislation will require us to undertake a new Risk Assessment and take appropriate steps to mitigate hazards.
For example, we are aware that those of us who wear glasses find it difficult to see properly when wearing a face covering, in historic buildings with uneven floors and steps this creates a new trip hazard. We also need to consider how we would assist someone who has a fall. Those leading worship, using the lectern step, the various steps around the chancel and sanctuary areas, and the steps into our pulpits, also need to review risk management.
The timing of the announcement means that the Church of England has not had time to provide new guidance and advice to churches. We hope that these will be available soon but in the meantime we have had to make the decision to suspend public worship from Sunday 9th August. This is a decision we very much regret. Over the past weeks we have had to adapt to new regulations on a weekly basis which we have so far been able to incorporate within our current Risk Assessment. The most recent changes in regulations mean that we need to undertake a more thorough review and we are waiting for advice how to proceed.
The PCCs have permission to suspend services until Sunday 6th September which gives us time to receive new advice and take the appropriate steps to reopen our churches safely. We hope this can be achieved earlier but much depends on how the situation develops and what the guidelines tell us. We will provide updates via our website.
I am immensely thankful for the diligence of our PCC members throughout this difficult situation. We hope we can reopen our churches soon but will only do so when we are confident we can do so safely.