We want to keep you up-to-date with information and updates about Coronavirus (COVID-19) so that you can take appropriate action within your churches.
For the latest government and NHS advice you can use the following links:
You should also note the Coronavirus Bill includes information that may be helpful about funeral services. Schedule 27 of the Bill relates to the management of deaths and sets out the powers available to local government to take control of local death management systems where essential for the protection of public health and the dignity of the deceased. Throughout, the government will ensure that local authorities and other public bodies have due regard to people’s religion or belief, and has sought to make this explicit through an amendment to the face of the Bill. Only as a last resort would other more stringent measures be considered.
Coronavirus Update Friday 16th October 2020
Coronavirus Tiers and Guidance
This week the government introduced a new “3-Tier System” for local areas throughout the country which means that different areas will be under various restrictions as this new system comes into effect. As examples, Greater Manchester and Cheshire are classed as “High-risk (Tier 2)”, whilst the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, Halton) and Lancashire are classed as “Very high-risk (Tier 3)”.
Detailed advice as to the meaning of this tier system may be found on the Government Website. Also, if you’re unclear as to the precise status of your area, the full list is here.
Things may change quickly, so you are advised to revisit these pages on a regular basis to keep up-to-date.
You will have seen in the news that some scientists are advising even stricter lockdown, while others of our leaders are deeply concerned for their local economies and are trying to balance this concern against the need for safety. But all agree that the situation country-wide is beginning to reach a dangerous point, and that we should exercise the utmost care as we seek to live through these days.
Implications for the churches
At present the regulations around public worship are unchanged, so if you decide that remaining open for worship is the appropriate way forward for your own church, this remains possible whether you are in the high-risk or very-high-risk tier. The Tier-3 wording on the Government website is as follows: “places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted”.
However, if your church decides to remain open, it may be prudent that you:
- Review your risk assessments, especially when it comes to “pinch-points” such as entering and leaving the building, so as to be quite sure that they are minimising any contact between different households
- Ask people to refrain from mingling in different households before and after public worship, even if they want to do so outside
- Consider displaying the relevant Q-code Posters from the government to enable people with the NHS Covid App to log their visit to your church, but also please continue to gather the contact details of your worshippers who do not use the App, in case you should need to connect with the Test and Trace system.
Funeral and wedding guidance remains as before: up to 15 people for weddings, and up to 30 people for funerals.
Charity Commission Update Friday 9th October 2020
Latest Charity Commission guidance for AGMs and other meetings:
If your church is registered as a charity in England, and it should be if you have an annual income of £5,000 or more, the Charity Commission has published some brief guidance on the “rule of six” as it applies to trustee and member meetings in England. Its current advice on AGMs and other meetings: postponing or cancelling meetings is as follows:
“Coronavirus continues to have a major impact on charity events and trustees need to consider how and if they can hold meetings.
Charitable companies and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) can hold AGMs and other members’ meetings online – this has been made possible by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and applies until 30 December.
For other types of meetings, or for any other type of charity, trustees need to check if their charity’s governing document allows them to hold meetings online or by telephone. Where it does not, an alternative may be to amend it to allow meetings to be held in this way.
We recognise that for some charities virtual meetings are not a viable solution, nor are socially distanced face-to-face meetings. In such instances trustees may consider they have no choice but to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.
If you do consider such a decision is necessary, you should follow any rules in your charity’s governing document that allow for postponement, adjournment or cancellation. If there are no such rules, but you decide that this is still the best course of action for your charity in the current circumstances, you should record the reasons for this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.
Wherever possible, we would ask you to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can email us.
Please include your charity name and charity registration number when you email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: temporary laws allowing charitable companies and CIOs to postpone AGMs and other members’ meetings end on 30 September. These charities can use the above advice.”
[Source: Charity Commission, 29 September]
Coronavirus Update Saturday 3rd October
As we move from summer to autumn and winter there will be an increasing need to heat our
churches. We have added some guidance to support churches as we move to colder weather. This is in the form of an additional FAQ, but this should be read alongside all the other general guidance on opening places of worship to the public and the Government guidance on places of worship and multi-use facilities.
Another piece of advice for churches who are currently open, or thinking of re-opening comes from the Bishop of Manchester – “If it’s social – don’t do it. If it’s work or worship – risk assess it.” In these difficult times, these are words that we all perhaps should reflect on.
Coronavirus Update Wednesday 23rd September
There is a change to the law this week which may impact on our churches.
As of Thursday 24 September, all of our churches should consider displaying the official NHS QR code posters to make it easier for people to check-in at different premises once the app is rolled out nationally.
The guidance for creating a poster for test and trace states:
“You should create and display a QR code if you are:
- a business, place of worship or community organisation with a physical location that is open to the public
- an event which is taking place in a physical location
If you have more than one venue, you need to create a separate QR code for each location. You can add multiple locations in the service.”
However, places of worship are not mandated in legislation requiring use of the NHS Test & Trace service, (except where they offer certain facilities such as a café, or are open as a tourist destination). But, along with other venues where people spend time, churches are strongly encouraged to keep a record of those who have attended to facilitate NHS Test and Trace
in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus. Participating in Test & Trace will help to slow the spread of Covid-19.
To access the service to generate the poster that will need to be displayed is as follows: Create a Coronavirus NHS QR code for your venue.
Coronavirus Update Tuesday 15th September 2020
The UK Government updated its guidance for the safe use of places of worship yesterday (14th September 2020). All churches should ensure that they understand what the restrictions mean for them and should follow the guidance laid out to ensure that they can meet in a Covid-Secure manner.
The Connexion has received several enquiries in relation to the latest changes, and the introduction to the guidance states:
“This guidance applies to places of worship when being used for a religious purpose or in preparation for a religious purpose.
Where a place of worship’s premises is used by other user groups, only those activities permitted by law should take place. Businesses which cannot yet operate are listed on the business closures page
For permitted uses of a place of worship not included in this guidance, you should refer to the specific guidance linked below:
- Tourism, retail and restaurants and other hospitality industries
- Meetings or small gatherings, as now permitted in other multi-purpose community settings
- Places of worship should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising any indoor or outdoor performances, paying particular attention to the sections on singing.”
The full guidance can be found here.
For any church activity that goes on in your building, you should complete a Risk Assessment to ensure you detail how you are compliant with the guidance. If you need copies of the relevant documents, please contact the Resource Centre. For any outside activities, the responsibility for a Risk Assessment lies with that organisation, and you should not let them use the premises until you have seen and agree with their Risk Assessment.
Coronavirus Update Saturday 8th August 2020
This week, 4 August, the Government issued an update to COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship and special religious services and gatherings during the pandemic which deals specifically with special religious services and gatherings.
The update states that from TODAY (8th August) that FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE WORN IN PLACES OF WORSHIP.
If your church has re-opened for prayer or for worship can you please ensure that you abide by this new law and ensure that people either bring their own mask or that you provide a mask for them when they enter your building.
Coronavirus Update Monday 27th July 2020
Today, 27 July, the Government has issued an update to COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship and special religious services and gatherings during the pandemic which deals specifically with special religious services and gatherings.
The update notes that communal worship or prayer can be attended by more than 30 people but only if the venue can safely accommodate larger numbers in a way which complies with COVID-19 secure guidance. The updated guidance provides the following checklist:
- Do – Follow the mitigation that places of worship have put in place, for example using booking systems, changes to entrances and exits or staggered arrivals.
- Do – Continue to broadcast services online for those who need to stay at home or are able to mark the event at home to avoid large gatherings.
- Don’t break social distancing (2 metres between households, or 1 metre with mitigation, if 2 metres is not possible), and especially avoid touching people outside of your household.
- Don’t interact socially outside of your household, or the group (of 2 households) that you went to the place of worship with.
- Do – If you can, you should also wear a face-covering – you must wear these if you travel on public transport or visit a shop.
- Do – Make sure you provide contact details to the place of worship to support the NHS Test and Trace service designed to track and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Don’t use shared areas for ablutions – wash at home, unless in an emergency.
- Do – Remove communal resources such as prayer mats. Single-use alternatives should be removed after use and disposed of by the worshiper.
- Do – Make sure you only touch your belongings, for example, shoes if removed.
- Do – Take home personal items brought in to aid worship, such as a prayer mat.
- Do – Speak into a microphone to lead devotions or sermons to avoid shouting. Avoid sharing microphones between different speakers.
- Do – Use a plexiglass screen in front of a single individual raising their voice, singing or chanting at the front.
- Don’t – No one else should sing, shout, or raise their voice, beyond that one individual behind plexiglass.
Coronavirus Update Monday 29th June 2020
Today the government have provided an update for places of worship – COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July. This is guidance that churches should follow if they wish to re-open for worship.
This guidance should be used in conjunction with other information that churches have received – Risk Assessments etc. before any church re-opens. If you require any assistance in completing a Risk Assessment for your church before re-opening, please contact the Resource Centre in the first instance.
Coronavirus Update Thursday 25th June 2020
Today the government have provided some updated guidance on what can and can’t be done in the form of a FAQ on their website. There is still no clear, official guidance yet on re-opening churches for worship purposes, but as this information becomes available will be contacting the churches. Here is the link to the FAQ page.
Coronavirus Update Tuesday 23rd June 2020
Today, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a further easing of lockdown restrictions from Saturday 4th July. This easing has an impact for our churches, but at this moment we do not have any firm guidelines. As soon as we have these, we will be contacting churches to let you know what you will and will not be able to do from 4th July.
However, for now, here is the Government Press Release.
Coronavirus Update Tuesday 16th June 2020
Government issues guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic
On Friday 12th June, the government issued guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic. You can find the information here.
The Connexion has also issued some helpful documents to our churches in the weekly mailing to guide your thinking as you consider whether you should re-open or not. If you do not receive these documents, please contact the Resource Centre to get a copy.
Coronavirus Update Monday 8th June 2020
Places of worship to re-open for individual prayer (Full Government Press Release)
From Monday 15th June places of worship will be permitted to open for individual prayer in line with social distancing guidelines. Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as “a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act.” They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households.
This decision follows discussions between the government and representatives of major faiths through the “Places of Worship Taskforce” which the Communities Secretary has chaired.
This move recognises the spiritual and mental health benefits for people being able to pray in their place of worship, and that for some people this cannot be replicated by praying at home.
New guidance will be published shortly to ensure the limited re-opening of places of worship can be done safely and in line with social distancing guidelines. However, “Faith Leaders” should carry out a risk assessment of the place of worship and tailor this guidance as appropriate for the venue and practices being carried out. This will be in addition to any risk assessment already in place.
Places of worship still have discretion over when they consider it safe to open and may decide to remain closed or reopen at a slower pace if they wish.
Under the existing regulations, funerals are allowed in places of worship where it is possible to do so safely. Other gatherings and services such as baptisms, weddings, supplementary schools, meetings and classes are not permitted.
Also places of worship may open for ministers of religion to film or record a service for broadcast, for the hosting of essential voluntary activities such as homeless services, for registered early years and childcare providers and for blood donation sessions. Buildings should also remain closed to tourists.
But a word of caution. The government is following the latest scientific and medical advice around how activities such as singing and/or playing instruments can best be managed safely. Further guidance will follow on this shortly, but for now such activity should be avoided.
AS WE RECEIVE FURTHER INFORMATION WE WILL UPDATE ALL OUR CHURCHES.
Coronavirus Update Monday 11th May 2020
In his latest update given yesterday at 7pm, Boris Johnson announced some small relaxations to the current advice regarding Coronavirus. This does have some impact, but not yet for our churches, so we await further advice. However, if you are wondering about personal implications, the are some FAQs here to assist you.
Coronavirus Update Thursday 16th April 2020
In Thursday’s coronavirus press conference update, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, confirmed that the UK’s social distancing measures will be extended for at least the next three weeks. The Foreign Secretary stated that, in order to relax the social distancing measures, five criteria must be satisfied:
- That the NHS will be able to provide sufficient care across the UK
- A sustained and consistent fall in COVID-19 deaths
- Reliable data showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels
- Must be confident that operational capacity will be able to meet the demand
- Must be confident that any adjustments will not risk a second peak of infections.
As we receive further information we will, of course, update this site. But for now our churches should remain closed until we receive any furtheradvice.
On Monday 16th March, a question was raised in the House of Commons regarding religious group meetings. Please see the video below for the response. This is advice and each church can make their own decision on whether to meet or not.