Coronavirus: Welsh Government Guidance

Welsh GovernmentPlease find below a summary of the relevant information highlighted in the attached PDF document entitled “Guidance on reopening places of worship: coronavirus”, which was last updated on 20th July 2020, in relation to reopening Tabor Baptist Church and Covid-19.

The attached PDF document can be opened by clicking here. The full guidance is available here: https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html

This summary explains the requirements laid out that Tabor Baptist Church must follow and explains why we have given the advice in the links on the previous page.


Overview

Churches must:

  • “take all reasonable measures to ensure a distance of 2 metres is kept between people on the premises and waiting to enter the premises (except members of the same household or extended household and any carers for any such members)”
  • “provide information to those on its premises on how to avoid the risk of exposure to coronavirus”

Regarding church opening, “it will not be possible to open for a full range of activities for some time to come.”

Churches may “open for communal worship, including prayers, devotions or meditations led by a Minister of Religion or lay person.”

“It is advised that services should be concluded in the shortest reasonable time as this reduces the risk of transmission.”

“Once completed, participants should be encouraged to leave the premises promptly and not gather, to minimise the risk of contact and spread of infection.”

 

Singing and Music

“Activities such as singing, chanting, shouting, should be specifically avoided.”

The explanation is: “This is because there is a possible additional risk of infection in environments where individuals are singing or chanting as a group, and this applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used.”

Furthermore, “raised voices or shouting increase the potential risk of transmission through aerosol and droplets. Therefore spoken responses during worship or ceremonies should also be made in a lowered voice.”

“Playing non-wind instruments is permissible as part of worship … Where a band or recorded music is playing it is advisable to stress, to those in attendance, the importance of avoiding singing.”

 

Food & Drink

“The distribution of food or drink (consumables) should be avoided except where they are integral to the worship, religious or belief ceremony.”

Communion is permitted – but there are strict stipulations (see Guidance for more details).

“Speaking, singing and chanting should not happen across uncovered consumables (other than consumables to be used by the individual alone).”

 

Handwashing and Hygiene

“Everyone should wash their hands for 20 seconds using soap and water as they enter and leave the building and after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose.” “If hand washing with soap and water is not practical, hand sanitisers can be used.”

“Where rituals or ceremonies require water to be applied to the body, small volumes can be splashed onto the body, but full immersion should be avoided.” (i.e. no baptisms at present)

 

Toilets

“Toilets can be opened providing that social distancing and hand hygiene guidance is followed.”

 

Worship Outdoors

  • “Larger gatherings to a maximum of 30 individuals are permitted outdoors where they are organised by [a church]”
  • “The organiser should be able to control the outdoor space to maintain this COVID-19 security which means organisers should have exclusive use of the space for the duration of the event.”
  • “Liaison with Local Authorities and other authorities such as the Police may be necessary where land that is normally open to the public is to be used.” – this would cause problems with using the ‘Common’
  • “The organisers are responsible for managing the public health risks associated with the event.”

 

Preparing the Building for Opening

“Natural ventilation via windows or vents should be used as far as possible.”

“In order to ensure good practice is adhered to by those attending … consider introducing … the following measures as appropriate:”

  • “using a notification or organised process to manage attendance at the place of worship (or outdoor worship) and to limit numbers such as asking people to notify you of their intention to attend”
  • “avoid people congregating in confined spaces, identifying entry and exit points”
  • “closing off unused areas, removing non-essential furniture, displays, play equipment, literature etc. from the areas that are open to worshippers”
  • “shared articles such as prayer mats, hymn books, collection plates being removed and individuals should be encouraged to bring their own where relevant”
  • “introduce signage and floor markings to guide worshippers”
  • “consider how to manage people who are waiting to enter the building such as a 2 metre physically distanced queuing system”

 

Communication

“Those in charge of running a place of worship should ensure they engage with their worshippers and with the wider community to explain what activity is permitted and what is still prohibited.”

“Faith leaders should provide reassurance to any member who is worried about letting their faith community down by not returning.”

 

Using the Building

  • “Where practical, non-fire doors should be kept open to prevent people from touching handles”
  • “No food or drink should be made available except if they are an essential part of the worship or ceremony.”
  • “Faith leaders should discourage cash giving and continue to use online giving and resources where possible minimising contact around transactions.”

 

Observing Social Distancing

“The legal requirement is that all reasonable measures are taken to ensure a distance of 2 metres is kept between those attending.”

“All possible actions should be taken to avoid queues and to ensure that those waiting to enter or leave a place of worship do not inadvertently gather.”

 

Who Can Attend?

“Those experiencing coronavirus symptoms listed below should not attend a place of worship:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of or change to your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)”

“Any individuals who are self-isolating … should not attend.”

“The advice for those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) and the extremely vulnerable group who are shielding [i.e. the elderly], continues …  However, they may decide, for their wellbeing, to attend a place of worship despite the additional risk this poses to them. In this case they and anyone with them should strictly follow the social distancing guidance.”

“If anyone, including religious leaders and volunteers, becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship, they should be sent home and advised to follow the self-isolation guidance and to apply for a coronavirus test.”

 

Test, Trace and Protect

“If it is possible to maintain a distance of 2 metres the Test Trace Protect strategy does not require a record of those who attend to be kept. However, there will be occasions, for instance as part of a marriage or baptism where this cannot be maintained. In those situations, a record of the time and date of the event and the names and telephone contact of those who have come within 2 metres of other households should be kept and handled in accordance with GDPR to protect the individuals’ privacy. These records should be kept for 21 days after the event.”