LATEST COVID ADVICE FROM THE BISHOP’S
The main form of virus transmission is via personal oral or nasal aerosol. Those attending an act of worship may continue to wear a face covering (both nose and mouth) whilst in the church building. There is no need for formal social distancing in church buildings, although those present should be sensitive to the needs of others around them. Churches should continue to ensure there is good ventilation, balancing this against the need for church heating, especially at this time.
It is clear from scientific evidence that transmission from surfaces (touch transmission) is now minimal and so the use of hymn books, missals and other worship aids can be resumed with immediate effect. Whilst it is still good practice to sanitise hands on entry and exit of churches, there is no need for readers (or other ministers) to sanitise their hands before reading or performing other ministries in the church. All ministers of Holy Communion (clergy and lay people) should still sanitise their hands for the distribution of Holy Communion. Holy water stoups may be refilled but care should be seen that the water is changed regularly (at a minimum of once a week). Usual forms of church cleaning are sufficient.
Regarding the liturgical action, there should be a return to the normal mode of celebrating Mass respecting the integrity of the Rite. This would include the reintroduction of the Prayer of the Faithful (where this has not been reinstated already), the Sign of Peace may be offered again if felt appropriate, and Holy Communion should be distributed at the usual place and in the usual mode (i.e. with the faithful approaching the minister in an orderly procession). For the time being, Holy Communion must continue to be given under one kind only (the Sacred Host) and for concelebrations of clergy, intinction of the Precious Blood with the Sacred Host should continue to be used.
Where there is physical touch as part of another Rite of the Church (for example, anointing of the sick, ashing of foreheads etc) the use of cotton buds is no longer mandated, but the hands should be cleaned well before and after the Rite. Congregational singing may continue and there is a general encouragement to wear face coverings while singing. However, it is recognised that not everyone will feel able to do this.
Parish social activities can resume (if they have been suspended) from the revert date to Plan A. It is recommended that the normal Health and Safety risk assessment for the activity and the space used for the activity is reviewed for these types of gatherings