Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance
Update September 25
Latest update from the Welsh Government on Test, Trace and Protect
We have updated our guidance accordingly:
The Welsh Government Test, Trace, Protect strategy sets out the approach to tackling coronavirus, testing people with symptoms in the community, tracing those who have come into close contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus and protecting family, friends and our community by self-isolating.
All persons entering places of worship should be asked to complete a record of attendance which records their name, contact telephone number and date and time of visit but people cannot be required to do so. In the case of access to church halls or churches for permitted community activity and by general visitors, it is a requirement that attendees are recorded before being admitted. These records must be handled in accordance with GDPR to protect the individuals’ privacy. These records should be kept for 21 days after the event and then destroyed.
A consent form can be found on the Test, Trace and Protect page
You should also provide a revised privacy notice and templates can also be found on the Test, Trace and Protect page. There is a version if you collect this information in advance online rather than ‘at the door’. The ‘online’ privacy notice should be made available on your website, and the ‘at the door’ privacy notice should be available for inspection (perhaps on the table where people are completing forms and on the church noticeboard).
The new NHS COVID-19 app is intended to help in this process but is not mandatory. The system involves the creation of a site specific QR code which allows people visiting to use the App. See:
This system does not replace the physical recording of attendance set out above.
It is recommended that all public church premises (including churches, halls, offices etc) should display such a QR code.
Further Welsh Government guidance can be found here on how to maintain records and on compliance with GDPR.
Further information about Test, Trace, Protect is available here.
We have produced guidance on the local lockdowns in the various designated areas:
Re-opening Church Halls:
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 have been amended to enable community centres including church halls and churches to re-open for work or to provide voluntary or charitable services. The requirement to seek prior Local Authority approval has been removed. However, there are limitations on the purposes for which the public can gather in such places. As detailed in our current guidance, any opening under the revised regulations will require strict physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning regimes to be in place based on a written risk assessment.’
Opening for Visitors:
The regulations now permit gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors. There are no specific restrictions on the activities that people can gather for but physical distancing of two metres must be maintained between persons attending. Therefore, it is possible for a choir to gather to sing in these circumstances but raised voices including singing appear to be a risk factor for the spread of Covid-19. It is recommended that such organised singing activity is conducted after a careful risk assessment and that loud singing is avoided.
Pastoral Guidance from the Bench of Bishops
Effective until further notice
This updated guidance is issued in the light of recent amendments to Welsh Government Regulations relating to the re-opening of places of worship.
Church buildings: wider re-opening
Welsh Government has announced that places of worship may be re-opened for individuals or households for communal led worship from Monday 13th July.
This phase of re-opening (the amber phase) gives the legal right for churches to be opened for individual or households to now visit places of worship for:
- Private prayer
- Communal worship including led prayers, devotions or meditations
- Holy Communion subject to appropriate risk mitigation measures (see checklist below)
- Baptisms subject to appropriate risk mitigation measures (see checklist below)
- Funeral and marriage services (for invited guests only) can be undertaken and separate guidance on this is available here.
Any church contemplating re-opening must first undertake a detailed risk assessment. Guidance on what this involves is available here. This includes a template risk assessment form. This will need to be submitted to your Archdeacon (or other nominated person) in advance of any re-opening. Following such approval, worship services may begin again from Sunday 19th July.
Whilst we rejoice that we can now return to worship in our churches, we urge local churches to only consider re-opening if you can do so effectively and safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.
Other Uses of buildings
Church buildings may be used to record or broadcast a service (with or without a congregation) from church buildings. Any such events should be held in accordance with diocesan guidelines, or otherwise with the explicit permission of the diocesan Bishop.
The Welsh Government Regulations also permit clergy to visit their churches, and for other church officers and volunteers to visit churches only to undertake a voluntary or charitable duty, where it is not reasonably practicable to undertake that duty from home. Site inspections can be undertaken by clerics, or by another person nominated by the Incumbent, Ministry/Mission Area Leader, Area Dean or Archdeacon. We ask that such visits are still kept to a reasonable minimum.
The trustee body responsible for the church building can also now consider allowing contractors and local volunteers to undertake repair and maintenance works to their church and churchyard subject to suitable distancing and hygiene arrangements.
Where churches are also used as community centres, they can now do so in accordance with the Regulations and the guidance on Church hall opening.
Clergy and others duly licensed or commissioned should exercise their ordinary pastoral ministry from a distance, by phone and online. Pastoral visits should still only be undertaken where essential; such visits should generally be to the doorstep and social distancing measures must be scrupulously observed. Individual Bishops may issue more detailed advice to their clergy on what they consider to be ‘essential’ visits and may be consulted by clergy in any cases of doubt.
Baptisms can now take place in churches and specific guidance has been provided by the Representative Body on this at https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/guidance-conducting-baptisms. Baptisms can also take place at home, hospital, hospice or other location in case of an extreme pastoral emergency, where baptism may be administered by a lay person. The order for emergency baptism is appended below.
Prayer and witness
The duty of the people of God to witness to Christ is not diminished at this time; neither is our obligation to pray without ceasing for our communities and all in need. We commend all that is being done in God’s service to care pastorally for our communities, and to enable worship, prayer and devotion to continue at home.
We continue to hold all who are anxious, all who are unwell, and all who are grieving in our prayers, asking that the presence of the risen Christ may be near to us all and give us assurance, peace and strength at this painful and anxious time.
An Order for Emergency Baptism
In an emergency, if no ordained minister is available, a lay person may be the minister of baptism. Before baptizing, the minister should ask the name of the infant / person to be baptized. If, for any reason, there is uncertainty as to the infant / person’s name, the baptism can be properly administered without a name (so long as the identity of the person baptized can be duly recorded).
The following form is sufficient:
The minister pours water on the person to be baptized, saying
I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Then all may say the Lord’s Prayer and the Grace.
Any person who has administered baptism privately in an emergency should make a careful record of the date and place of baptism and of the identity of the person baptised. He / she should forward details to the parish priest as soon as possible and without delay.
The parish priest should ensure that the customary record is entered in the baptismal register.
Bench of Bishops
14th September 2020
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.The Bench of Bishops The Church in Wales