Covid-19 Omicron variant – Guidance for Churches
With respect to the current situation with the omicron variant it is important to ensure the following points are followed in our churches:
- That people displaying any symptoms of covid-19 should stay at home and not travel to church or participate in person.
- That hand sanitiser is available to those attending the Church.
- That there is a strong recommendation for people to wear a face covering (both nose and mouth) during the act of worship.
- That there is good ventilation and air throughput in the building; in this case, because of climatic conditions, it would be important to remind people to wrap up well in church!
- That a positive message encouraging people to get vaccinated and have the booster jab, when able, is delivered whenever possible.
- That people who are engaged in a form of pastoral ministry which involves ministry to the housebound, sick, and vulnerable, should take regular lateral flow tests to ensure they are safe to do so. These are free from the NHS.
We have been informed that there is now very strong evidence to support that the main mode of transmission is through breath and nasal aerosols and that the risk from surface and touch transmission is very small indeed. As such, the strict regimes of church cleaning that were recommended at the beginning of the opening of churches for public worship are no longer necessary. General church cleaning is sufficient. If these guidance points are supported, then the churches will continue to be safe places for people to gather for acts of public worship, including over the Christmas period.
From the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Southwark
- Firstly, it should be noted that the Government has not called for places of worship to close; nor for carol services, etc, to be cancelled. Thus, at this time, there is no restriction on Christmas liturgies, as planned, so long as they conform to the latest regulations.
- Concerning face masks, from midnight on Friday, some form of face-covering will be required in most public indoor venues, including places of worship.
- However, exemptions exist for various reasons: legitimate health reasons, as has always been the case; but now also for singing, in that, both choir and congregation may continue to remove their masks to sing.
- Further clarification may come from the Bishops’ Conference in due course, especially as there exist a few discrepancies in the new regulations as they stand; however, I hope these observations will assist those who have expressed concern about the coming weekend. Please note that the Bishops’ Conference guidance concerning cleaning, issued last week, still prevails.
- This next Sunday is Gaudete, so let us take that to heart! Gaudete in Domino semper! Rejoice in the Lord, always!