Guidance on re-opening of churches for visitors
Please read the guidance below then download:
Re-opening Churches - private prayer and communal worship
Edition 2.5: Amber Phase
Re-opening for private prayer and communal worship
This guidance has been produced to help those responsible for managing churches assess their buildings and activities and develop a risk assessment to manage the risks posed by Coronavirus Covid-19.
Places of Worship were closed by law in March 2020 and the Welsh Government has set out a broad framework for re-opening based on a ‘traffic-light’ approach as public health advice indicates the restrictions can be eased. The traffic lights are:
- Lockdown: Closure of places of worship with exceptions for funeral and cremations
- Red: Opening of places of worship for private prayer under physical distancing
- Amber: Limit services and size of congregations linked to ability to ensure physical distancing
- Green: All places open with full range of services alongside physical distancing
The details of re-opening in terms of precisely what will be permitted to happen in a place of worship at each stage will be defined under protocols being developed by Welsh Government.
By law, those responsible for places of worship are required to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a 2-metre distance is maintained between persons on the premises. Physical distancing is the most fundamental principle in re-opening any church building. Other risk management measures relate to hygiene (hand washing, sanitising, personal protective equipment) and premises and equipment cleaning though the need for these will vary depending on the activity being undertaken.
PART 1 of this guide is a checklist to help you to consider your situation and the appropriate steps to manage the risks presented by Covid-19. It has been developed to be a document that grows as each stage of relaxation is clarified. Take time to work through each of the questions, using the notes provided to help you answer them.
PART 2 is a risk assessment template to enable you to record your proposed actions from the checklist. This should be approved by your Archdeacon (or other nominated person) and shared with your team so all are aware of the arrangements.
Please Note: This guidance is to assist local churches with re-opening their building and reflects but does not substitute, Welsh Government legislation and guidance. Please see Welsh Government guidance
PART 1: CHECKLIST
AMBER PHASE: OPENING OF PLACES OF WORSHIP FOR PRIVATE PRAYER AND COMMUNAL WORSHIP UNDER PHYSICAL DISTANCING
This phase of re-opening gives the legal right for churches to be opened for individual or households to 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.
The following gives a list of key steps to consider in preparation for this phase (but will largely be relevant to future phases). The local trustee body (PCC, MAC, LMAC) responsible for each place of worship has a legal responsibility to do all that it reasonably practicable to prevent people from coming to harm from Covid-19 (or any other hazard).
SECTION 1: PREPARATIONS
NB Clergy, contractors and authorised volunteers of the PCC/MAC/LMAC are permitted by law to enter the building to make preparations for re-opening.
SECTION 2: PHYSICAL DISTANCING
SECTION 3: HYGIENE
SECTION 4: CLEANING
PART 2: RISK ASSESSMENT: RE-OPENING FOR PRIVATE (PERSONAL) PRAYER
Having worked through the checklist, complete the risk assessment proforma below. This should be approved and dated by an authorised representative of the PCC/MAC/LMAC. The completed form should be approved by your Archdeacon.