Covid-19 Updated Guidance May 2021

Please check the bulletin and the guidance below from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales website.

Booking for Sunday 10am is still required and Covid safety measures must still be observed.

Bishops’ Conference Guidance

You can download the guidance that follows on this page as a printable PDF.CBCEW – COVID Step 3 Guidance

Introduction

This Guidance is offered to the Dioceses of England and Wales as the country moves into Step 3 (17 May) of the Government Covid-19 Response Roadmap published in February 2021.

Following the data on the prevalence of the virus and its effects, especially the numbers of infections translating to serious hospitalisations and deaths resulting from Covid-19 and incorporating the successful vaccination of persons against the virus, the Government has said that further cautious easements on restrictions will be made on these dates.

It is important that as the two marker dates for Step 3 and Step 4 are reached, the general principles of creating a safe environment in places of worship and their ancillary buildings are not abandoned.

Recognition of the continuing circulating presence of the virus in the population means that certain preventative practices will still be required, and this is important to ensure that Diocesan trustees are seen to be discharging their duties under Health and Safety legislation. Indeed, the Government has stated that changes moving forward would be on a risk-based approach for all organisations with the responsibility to ensure appropriate measures to safeguard public health sitting with the management of the organisation.

General Principles

This guidance has been prepared following discussions with officials from Public Health England and HM Government Places of Worship Task Force. Key to implementation of this guidance is the Government’s understanding of moving away from centralised detailed regulation to prudent local judgements. The Prime Minister stated on 10 May 2021 “And today we are taking a step towards that moment when we learn to live responsibly with Covid – when we cease eventually to rely on detailed government edicts, and make our own decisions – based on the best scientific advice – about how to protect our families and those around us.”

The following general principles apply:

Prevailing Local Conditions
All places of worship should always consider the prevailing local conditions for the virus. Special consideration should be given to the R number, the prevalence of new variants of the virus, the local rates of hospital admissions and any local public health advice. These data can be obtained from the Director of Public Health at the local authority, and it is important to have knowledge of these figures.

Mitigations
It is important to mitigate against the risks of virus transmission. Although the vaccine rollout programme is very successful to date, over 68% of adults having had one dose and 35% two doses, the risk of transmission is still live. Therefore, it is recommended that two key measures to help reduce aerosol and droplet spread remain in place for now:

  • hand sanitiser is kept available for those entering churches and people are encouraged to use it, and
  • that the wearing of face coverings, even if removed by law, remains at least for now (apart for those who are exempt.)

Cleaning of Churches
General cleaning to a good standard, using generally available cleaning fluids and detergents, with attention to frequent touchpoints is the standard to continue. This is consistent with the latest evidence. This guidance is produced to clarify these points given recent scientific evidence. While the virus can land on surfaces and can infect people if they touch those surfaces and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes, this risk is lower than the risk from aerosol or droplet spread. There are several key things which churches and parishes have been doing, and should continue to do, which significantly reduce this risk:

Sanitising hands on entry to churches and before liturgies as in current church guidance reduces risk.

Ensuring people wear face coverings properly will reduce aerosol or droplet spread.

Ventilating buildings well (especially during and between services) remains important.

Maintaining a good general standard of routine cleaning using usual cleaning
detergents is sufficient for regular use:

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