Coronavirus

 

As lockdown restrictions have changed, there are more grey areas than before. Our advice is for each church to read the guidelines and decide what is appropriate in their own situation. We aim to share relevant links that will help you with this process. 

NEW! Updated guidance on reopening places of worship (9th November)  

We ask any church that is seeking to gather together to read the government guidelines

Full Guidelines can be found here

GUIDANCE UPDATE - Tuesday 3rd November

This is the latest advice from Cytun... 

  • The Welsh Government have confirmed that places of worship can re-open for worship from Monday 9th November and that “Community centres will be available for small groups to meet safely indoors in the winter months.” A small Group means 15 or fewer people. The upper limit of 15 will not apply to WORSHIP but will apply to community activities in places of worship as in other community buildings. We will be able to clarify further when the full regulations are published. 

  • Following enquiries over the weekend regarding emergency pastoral work during the firebreak lockdown until November 8, and comments by the First Minister in his press conference yesterday, we would draw your attention to the attached in Welsh Government’s general guidance: Firebreak Frequently Asked Questions 

  • I have caring responsibilities for somebody I do not live with – can I visit them? You are allowed to provide care for or to help someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult, even if they are not part of your household. You can also visit someone on compassionate grounds if necessary. When considering whether there is a need to visit someone outside your household, especially indoors, you should remember we all have a responsibility to recognise the risks the virus presents to ourselves, our families and friends and our wider communities. People need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable, in line with that overarching principle. Keep in mind that the purpose of the restrictions is to prevent the spreading of the virus, including to those we care about. “Compassionate grounds” are not amongst the “reasonable excuses” for meeting others in the regulations, and “care” is defined in the regulations as per the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, which in general does not include the kind of pastoral care offered by faith communities.  However, we believe that the italicised sentence in the guidance above gives permission, in genuine pastoral emergency, where there is no other reasonable way of offering such care, to conduct a pastoral visit under the reasonable excuses 3(d) work or provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably practicable to do so from home or 3(i) provide or receive emergency assistance. Naturally, this does not cover pastoral visits which are not genuinely necessary, and the risk of inadvertently spreading the virus should be considered first. If the weather is fine, it may be possible to consider visiting outdoors rather than indoors. It may also be wise to keep a written record of the decision to visit and the reasons for this.

Questions about Face Masks - 15th September

 

Do I have to wear a face covering when attending a religious service? What if I am leading a service? 

Yes, places of worship are indoor public places and so the requirements will apply there as in other public place. 

 

We consider that those leading worship or a ceremony may have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if they cannot effectively do so while wearing one, as long as they have taken other sufficient mitigations such as staying continually over 2 metres away from others and/or wearing a visor.

However, this “reasonable excuse” is not included in the Regulations or the guidance for places of worship, so it is important that any decision that the worship leader need not to wear a three-layer face covering, and appropriate alternative mitigations taken, are included in the church’s risk assessment for arranging a service.

 

Are face coverings required in wedding and civil partnership ceremonies?

Guests will need to wear coverings, but given the importance to couples of the ceremony and the level of risk involved, we consider it is reasonable for the couple to remove their coverings for a kiss, for taking vows and for a “first dance”, as long as other measures are in place to protect people attending the ceremony from the risk of contracting coronavirus, for example, guests staying 2m away from the couple at all times. 

Covid Advice update - 14th September

We are, once again, very grateful to Cytûn, for their prompt updates  in a rapidly changing situation.

1. From today (September 14) in Wales there is a limit of 6 people on indoor social gatherings, and all 6 must be from the same extended household (up to 30 may meet out of doors, and need not all be from the same extended household). The exemptions from this regulation are the same as the exemptions from the previous regulation, so more than 6 people may attend a place of worship, and also the other permitted activities listed at http://www.cytun.co.uk/hafan/en/covid-19-briefing-paper/ It follows, therefore, that it remains impermissible to gather in a place of worship or community centre for social activities or other events not included in the permitted list, even if 6 or fewer people are present. Welsh Government have confirmed that governance meetings count as “voluntary service” and may proceed subject to adherence to all the regulations.


2. When gathering in “open premises” – including places of worship and community centres – it is now a requirement to wear a face covering as well as taking the other steps, such as hand washing and physical distancing, which are required. Welsh Government defines a “face covering” as follows – “The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of three layers in a face covering. Face coverings must cover the mouth and nose” This applies to all, including worship leaders and those speaking in other permitted meetings. The requirement for “three layers” means that a visor alone is not permitted. There are exception to the requirement to wear a face covering for medical reasons, and it is permitted to remove the covering “to communicate with another person who has difficulty communicating (in relation to speech, language or otherwise)” [Regulation 12B(4)(c)]. Fuller guidance for the public is published here - https://gov.wales/face-coverings-guidance-public?_ga=2.51750447.728759724.1600073131-1091050911.1599566111 and for premises managers here - https://gov.wales/face-coverings-guidance-measures-be-taken-employers-and-managers-premises

3. In response to enquiries from churches over the weekend Cytun is contacting Welsh Government to ask whether the exception “to communicate with another person who has difficulty communicating” means that the face covering may be removed by a worship leader to communicate with a congregation when some members of that congregation have such difficulty, and also whether worship leaders may wear a visor instead of a three-layer face covering. 

4. Stricter statutory restrictions remain in force in Caerphilly Borough – see Cytun's website for details.

5. Non-statutory additional guidance has been introduced in Rhondda Cynon Taf - https://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/EN/Resident/EmergenciesSafetyandCrime/InformationforResidentsCoronavirus/NEWCoronavirusCOVID19latestinformation/COVID19OutbreakControlandPrevention/EnhancedPublicHealthVoluntaryActionsforRCT.aspx and Merthyr Tydfil (similar guidance, but the Merthyr CBC website has not yet been updated at the time of writing). This new guidance does not affect the operation of places of worship directly, but it does require taking even greater care over pastoral work and, especially, visiting.

Local Lockdown in Caerphilly - 8th September

We are grateful to Cytun for the following update: 

At 6pm today (Sept 8) new restrictions came into force in the Caerphilly County Borough Council area. The regulations in full can be found here - https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-09/the-health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-no.2-wales-amendment-no-8-caerphilly-regulations-2020.pdf - and Government guidance can be read here - https://gov.wales/caerphilly-county-coronavirus-lockdown and here - https://gov.wales/caerphilly-county-coronavirus-lockdown-frequently-asked-questions

What follows is not legal advice, but our initial understanding is that the main implications of the regulations for churches and faith communities are:

  1. Places of worship in Caerphilly may remain open, but all those aged over 11 who attend activities indoors must wear a face covering (apart from those who are exempt for medical reasons). There is no exemption in the regulations for worship leaders, so it will be necessary to wear a face covering when leading worship indoors in Caerphilly.

  2. It is not permissible to travel into or out of the Caerphilly County Borough area in order to attend a place of worship (except for attending a funeral or wedding – see 3 below). That is, those who live in Caerphilly CBC must worship in the area, and those who live outside Caerphilly CBC may not travel there to worship. It is permissible to travel into or out of the Borough in order to “work or provide voluntary or charitable services”, so a worship leader or someone who works voluntarily in a place of worship may travel for that purpose, if it is not reasonably practicable to do this work from home (see 5 below).

  3. It is permissible to travel into or out of the Borough to attend a funeral or wedding service to lead it, by invitation, or as the carer of a participant or invitee, but it is not permissible to attend a wedding reception or catering in connection with a funeral if you have travelled into or out of the Borough for the service. [This restriction appears to apply even to the couple being married and the immediate family of a deceased person].

  4. It is permissible to travel into or out of the Borough to (amongst other things) “access or receive public services” or “access or receive childcare or education services”. Note that it is not permissible to travel into or out of the Borough for purposes such as accessing voluntary services, attending exercise classes or socialising, and this will restrict which activities it is practicable for places of worship in Caerphilly CBC to host during this local lockdown.

  5. It is required to work or provide voluntary services from home if it reasonably practicable to do so. So clergy and places of worship should consider carefully which work and Services should be offered from home rather than from elsewhere.

  6. Cafes may remain open, but no one may meet anyone from outside their household there – each household must sit separately and keep strict physical distancing between each household.

 

Reopening Community Centres - 27th August

We are grateful to Cytun for the following advice: 

The Welsh Government has published its guidance for re-opening community centres, including the community use of places of worship. You can see these here: https://gov.wales/safe-use-multi-purpose-community-centres-covid-19 The principles are very similar to those in the guidance on re-opening places of worship, so those familiar with the latter will be well prepared for this new guidance. The community centres guidance includes a step-by-step guide to taking decisions regarding re-opening, and I imagine that section will prove particularly useful to decision makers.

We would note two matters in particular:

  1. The community centres guidance states: Regulation 12 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 places a duty on those responsible for the centre to collect contact information from each person at the premises or, in relation to persons from the same household, from one of them, and retaining it for 21 days for the purpose of providing it to the Welsh Ministers or to a public health officer upon either’s request. Further information about Test, Trace, Protect is available, along with guidance on keeping records of staff, customers and visitors, and practical guidance for community centres reopening. This is a surprising interpretation of the regulations (which say that such steps may be taken, rather than that they must be taken), but in the light of the wording in this guidance, places of worship are advised to collect contact details for attendees at community activities, ensuring that the information is kept and destroyed in line with data protection regulations (GDPR). 

  2. The community centres guidance does not change the lists of activities permitted within a community centre, but it does note that the list of permitted activities may change from time to time, or in specific geographical areas, and that it is the responsibility of those responsible for the centre to ensure that they know what is permitted or not. A full list of the activities currently (August 27) permitted across Wales can be found on Cytûn’s website: http://www.cytun.co.uk/hafan/en/covid-19-briefing-paper/

 

Communal worship and outdoor gatherings update – 21st July

Government guidance has now been released -  Full Guidelines can be found here

16th July, 2020

The background

From 13 July the following is allowed:

  • communal worship in places of worship as well as outdoor gatherings arranged by organised faith and belief groups

  • Outdoor gatherings are subject to a cap of 30 people and can include worship or life event ceremonies (EG Wedding blessings)

 

This afternoon there was a ‘Question and Answer’ session organised by the Welsh government and Cytun. We are awaiting the full guidance to be published (which we were told is ‘imminent’). There are two pieces of advice that help to set the context for our expectations:

 

  • Although churches are allowed to organise services the advice is to ‘take your time and not rush back’. There are many considerations that should be thoroughly assessed. We must wait for the full guidance to come out before making decisions.

  • Don’t expect services to look or feel like they did pre-lockdown. It will be very different.

 

Here are some things that we can expect from the guidelines…

 

BEFORE OPENING

Risk assessments will be essential. Church leaders/Trustees will have the responsibility of preparing and maintaining a covid-safe environment. It must be clear who is accountable for this.  Someone will need to be in charge of the process of preparation and someone in charge on the day of the event. A new risk assessment is required for every service/event (although it may be almost exactly the same as a previous one).

 

Baptists Together have a Risk Assessment template and advice on the website:

https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/582293/Risk_Assessment_Template.aspx

Please do remember that any guidance leaflets on the site are currently prepared for the advice in England. Any use of this must be cross-referenced with the Welsh government guidelines when they are published.

 

Basic expectations will include:

  • social distancing,

  • good hygiene practice – this includes the opportunity for people to wash their hands on entering the building (hand sanitiser is permitted). Regular cleaning of door handles should be a part of any event.

  • Avoiding risky practises.

 

High risk practises include

  • things that widen the spread of water droplets and aerosol created by human breath such as raised voices, singing or chanting.

  • two people (not in the same household) touching the same surface or object without creating a barrier for the virus through good hygiene including the washing of hands

 

A LIST OF WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED

  • Singing, chanting or anything that encourages people to raise their voices is not allowed. A solo singer is permitted, who may be accompanied by socially distanced musicians.

  • Playing of any wind powered instruments or the use of fans or air conditioning during the event is not allowed (This means pipe organs are not allowed to be played)

  • Playing music so loudly that it causes attendees to raise their voices is not allowed.

  • Consumption of food or drink is not allowed. When asked about sharing communion we were told this should not happen. The use of individual cups produces a risk for any who clear up and responsible for decontaminating the cups.

  • Full immersion baptism is not currently allowed

  • Shared hymn books and bibles, etc, should be not be used and removed from places where people can pick them up.

 

 

OTHER QUESTIONS THAT WERE RAISED

 

 Who is allowed to attend?

  • Specific groups should not attend such as those who have been asked to self-isolate by Test Trace and Protect or those showing symptoms.

  • Whilst anyone can attend a worship service, any other life events should be by invitation only.  

 

What about social gatherings after a service?

  • The social gatherings that often accompany these events are not addressed by this guidance you should follow broader guidance on gatherings.

 

Are room bookings allowed?

  • Places of worship and related venues such as halls may open as visitor attractions or to provide public or charitable services. It will depend on whether the purpose of the activity meets the government criteria (for example, an AA group is different to a children’s party).

  • Churches may want to consider who is responsible for creating a Covid-safe environment in letting conditions.

 

Is there a limit on numbers?

  • Indoors it will depend on the number who can be accommodated with social distancing. Outdoors the limit is 30 because of the increased difficulty of managing people who attend in a safe way.

 

What about cleaning?

  • Regular cleaning is important. Special care should be taken for any points that are touched by the hands.

  • Toilet usage should be managed so that people are not passing each other between toilets and washbasins.

 

Do we need to wear facemasks?

  • No – the current guidance is that this is not necessary unless for any unavoidable reason you might need to break the 2m social distancing.

 

Do we need to keep a record of who attends?

  • No. However, if for any reason people come within 2m of each other a record should be kept in case it is needed for ‘Track and Trace’.

 

Is Sunday school allowed?

  • No – not at this time.

 

Are we allowed to take an offering?

  • The advice is to avoid using cash if at all possible. Electronic methods of giving should be encouraged.

Preparing to resume services: UPDATE - 13th July

Whilst we are waiting for official guidance to be published about what churches must consider in arranging to re-open, you may find Cytûn's summary guide helpful:

 

http://www.cytun.co.uk/hafan/en/covid-19-briefing-paper/

Cytûn: Churches together in Wales
Relaxation of coronavirus Legislation in Wales from July 13 2020:
Initial guidance for churches

 

On July 10 2020 Welsh Government published the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020. These are entirely new regulations, rather than a further update of the regulations first introduced in March 2020. The provisions which affect churches come into force on Monday July 13.


Clause 12(3)(b) designates a place of worship as “open premises”, i.e. it is lawful for it to be open to the public. Clause 12(2) places duties on the “person responsible” for the premises (in law a ‘person’ may be a constituted body such as an Elders’ or Deacons’ Meeting), for the purposes of minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises, to:
(a) take all reasonable measures to ensure— 
(i) that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer);
(ii) where persons are required to wait to enter the premises, that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between them (except between two members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer), 
(b) take any other reasonable measures for that purpose, for example measures which limit close face to face interaction and maintain hygiene such as—
(i) changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
(ii) controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts; 
(iii) controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens; 
(iv) otherwise controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises; 
(v) installing barriers or screens; (vi) providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment, and 
(c) provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

 

Clause 13(1) then places a duty on the same ‘person’ to:
have regard to guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers about those measures.
It is anticipated that the specific guidance regarding places of worship will be published on Monday July 13. Church authorities are advised, therefore, to await the publication of this guidance before finalising detailed preparations to re-open.

 

Clause 15 permits organised outdoor activity organised by, amongst others, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution [15(2)(b)(ii) – this would include churches and Christian charities] consisting of no more than 30 persons [15(1)], provided that
the person organising it has— 
(i) carried out a risk assessment which would satisfy the requirements of regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999(1), whether or not the person is subject to those Regulations, and 
(ii) complied with the requirements of regulations 12(2) and 13(1) [which are the requirements above to reduce the risk of coronavirus and to have regard to guidance issued by Welsh Ministers]. 

 

For convenience, we reproduce here the regulations regarding risk assessment which are referenced here, as subsequently amended:

Risk assessment

3.—(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.
(2) Every relevant self-employed person shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) the risks to his own health and safety to which he is exposed whilst he is at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.
(3) Any assessment such as is referred to in paragraph (1) or (2) shall be reviewed by the employer or relevant self-employed person who made it if—
(a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or
(b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required, the employer or relevant self-employed person concerned shall make them.
(3A) In this regulation “relevant self-employed person” means a self-employed person who conducts an undertaking of a prescribed description for the purposes of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
(4) An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (5).
(5) In making or reviewing the assessment, an employer who employs or is to employ a young person shall take particular account of—
(a) the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons;
(b) the fitting-out and layout of the workplace and the workstation;
(c) the nature, degree and duration of exposure to physical, biological and chemical agents;
(d) the form, range, and use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled;
(e) the organisation of processes and activities;
(f) the extent of the health and safety training provided or to be provided to young persons; and
(g) risks from agents, processes and work listed in the Annex to Council Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work, as amended by Directive 2014/27/EU.
(6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record—
(a) the significant findings of the assessment; and
(b) any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.
We conclude, therefore, that the “person” responsible for arranging an outdoor activity under these new regulations needs to fulfil the responsibilities of an “employer or relevant self-employed person” in these health and safety regulations, even if they are not an employer or self-employed, and that they do so with regard to the safety of all those attending the event (and not employees alone).

 

Clause 16(2) of the new regulations continue to require that those working or providing voluntary or charitable services should continue to do so from home if it is reasonably practicable for the person to work or to provide voluntary or charitable services from the place where they are living. This is different from the situation in England. Churches in Wales, therefore, should continue to consider holding worship and other activities in a way which allows people to join from home rather than attending a place of worship. Only those activities which require gathering together in person should move back to the place of worship.

 

Some churches run community centres. Currently, under Clause 10(4) these centres must remain closed, except to provide:
(a) essential voluntary services, or 
(b) public services upon the request of the Welsh Ministers or a local authority.
There is no definition of “essential voluntary services” in these regulations, but in previous regulations food banks and services for the homeless were specifically referenced. Under (b), blood donor sessions have been referenced previously, and also child care services with the permission of the local authority. 


Welsh Government has announced that it is expected that community centres will be able, from Monday July 20, to restart more public services at the discretion of local authorities.... One such vital service is that delivered by voluntary and local authority youth work services. We are working closely with young people and the sector to develop specific guidance to support their wider re-opening and this will follow shortly thereafter. Re-opening community centres will also help local authorities provide summer holiday play schemes and childcare. 
The distinction between a “place of worship” and a “community centre” continues to be unclear (as they are often integral parts of the same building), so we would advise churches not to re-start community activities which are not “essential” in their buildings until new regulations are announced regarding community centres from July 20. Churches who wish to arrange activities for children and young people over the summer are advised to contact their local authority for guidance.


Some churches run cafés. Clause 6(1) states that the ‘person’ responsible must close any part of its premises which is indoors and used for the consumption of food or drink. Church cafés, therefore, may serve food and drink in the open air, provided that they have the facilities to do so in accordance with health and safety and food hygiene regulations, and if they have carried out a risk assessment following the risk assessment regulations above.


Clause 14 of the regulations restricts the reasons why individuals may gather indoors. Attendance at a place of worship is not currently one of the permitted reasons, other than to attend a funeral or wedding by invitation, even though it is lawful to re-open places of worship under the conditions above. We imagine this must be an error, but this reinforces our advice that churches should await publication of the full guidance by Welsh Government before taking a final decision to re-open. 


Welsh Government is publishing new guidance regularly, and this can be found at: https://gov.wales/topic/980/latest Cytûn will continue to try to draw churches’ attention to relevant new guidance as it is published.

 

Preparing to resume services - 10th July 2020

The government provided its latest guidance regarding the easing of lockdown on Friday 10th July. You can read Mark Drakeford's statement here.

There are a number of things that will impact our thinking. The statement includes the following: 

 

From Monday 13 July the following sectors and businesses will be able to open, subject to following guidance about coronavirus-safe ways to operate:...

  • Indoor visitor attractions..., 

  • Places of worship. Faith leaders can begin to gradually resume services when they are ready to do so safely.

We are making changes to the regulations to allow larger gatherings outdoors of up to 30 people where these are organised and supervised by a responsible person. This will allow sports and leisure activities, such as fitness and dance classes, to take place outdoors, as well as collective worship. This will include charities, businesses, and sports clubs and a risk assessment will need to be carried out.

In the second week, from 20 July, we will remove the current restrictions on playgrounds and outdoor gyms. These will reopen gradually over the following weeks as and when safety checks and other measures are put in place. We will also publish guidance to support community centres to restart more public services at the discretion of local authorities. This will enable them to operate in a coronavirus-safe way.

We are expecting further guidance about what this might mean in the near future and will provide an update as soon as possible. 

Opening of Churches for Private Prayer - 19th June 2020

 

Mark Drakeford announced on Friday 19th June that from Monday (22nd June) Churches may open for private / individual prayer. 

Individuals or a group from the same household may use the building for prayer but are discouraged from social interaction with others. Rules on social distancing and hygiene (see below) must be adhered to. Aids to prayer such as books or prayer sheets must be either brought and taken away by the worshipper or be single-use.  

We appreciate that the use of church buildings for individual prayer may be a comfort to other church traditions more than it is to Baptists. Baptists Together (BUGB) are actively involved in ecumenical discussions with the Government so that the recommencement of our tradition of ‘gathered church’ is considered as early as possible. 

 

This means:

 

  • We continue to abide by existing Government guidance not only because of its legal force but as an expression of our care for the vulnerable.  

  • It is clear that the opening of church buildings for individual prayer should not be used as an excuse for covert worship services or even prayer meetings.  

  • The guidance explicitly denies permission to use church buildings for corporate worship, led devotions, informal prayer meetings, study groups, baptisms, leisure and recreational groups, among others. 

  • The church may also be used by staff, volunteers or contractors who facilitate the use of the building by undertaking maintenance, repair, cleaning, or room rearrangement.

If you decide to explore re-opening your building for any of the permitted purposes, we stress again that you should read the complete government guidance (23rd June) . You will have to consider the viability of at least the following in your preparation:

 

  • Frequent cleaning of shared spaces, seating and surfaces that will be touched. 

  • Restricting numbers so that social distancing guidelines may be followed inside. 

  • Arranging chairs and marking floors to help people keep a 2 m distance. 

  • Hand cleansing, ideally with hot water and soap, at entry and exit points of the building. 

  • The use of hard rather than cloth-covered seating to enable quick and effective cleaning. 

  • A one-way system for worshippers through the building and/or staggered arrival times. 

  • Using screens, barriers or alternative rooms to separate worshippers. 

  • Encouraging worshippers to bring their own Bible or book of prayers etc. 

  • Ventilation of the building space whilst it is in use.  

  • Removal of all children’s toys and closure of play areas.  

  • Clear communication to users of what I expected of them within the building. 

  • The use of face masks, though these are not mandatory in church buildings.    

  • Providing dedicated times for individual prayer for those at higher risk of severe disease from Covid-19 including those over 70.   

  • It is recommended that anyone who is shielding does not attend a place of worship. Those who are self-isolating or have any symptoms of Covid-19 whatsoever must not attend. 

 

We strongly recommend that in addition to considering the government guidance in detail, a risk assessment is undertaken by the trustees. A helpful Covid-19 risk assessment template has been produced by Baptists Together. Although different regulations for opening vary in each part of the UK, the risk assessment template is still very useful.

 

For specific advice on risk management, you may contact the Risk Management Advice Line run by Baptist Insurance by phoning 0345 600 7531 or by email at risk.advice@baptist-ins.com. Advice is free to churches who are Baptist Insurance customers, though you should have your policy number to hand when you call them. The line is open from 9:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays.

 

Churches are of course under no obligation to open their premises at all. Ministers and trustees should resist pressure to open buildings if the nature of their buildings or their ability to manage the above processes cannot minimise transmission of Covid-19.   

 

Further guidance from BUGB on general property considerations and unoccupied properties during the pandemic may be found in this leaflet: L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues. 

 

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive website may also prove useful. 

This information was adapted from the Baptist Together Website

Other information on Welsh Government briefings to churches can be on the Cytun Website  

We have received information from the Welsh Language Commissioner regarding bilingual signage to assist with maintaining physical distancing, hygiene and safety within buildings when they re-open, and Cytûn  encourages us to consider using bilingual signage even in places of worship which use English or another language as the medium of worship. You can find this here

information about a tool developed by Welsh Government to assist individuals who wish to assess their personal risk or seek help in the current circumstances is available here

Coronavirus - message from the Regional Team - March 2020

 

During these challenging times the Regional Team are seeking to support in both practical ways and through prayer as we face these difficulties together.

Here is our latest practical advice sent out earlier to those on our email list. If you aren’t part of this but would like to be, please let us know:

Click Here for Baptist Union Advice 

We encourage all churches to keep up to date with the guidance released by the Baptist Union. There are regular updates and the National Team are doing a fantastic job. 

You can find links on this page for advice about:

  • Pastoral visiting

  • Keeping the Church Community connected

  • Church Meetings

  • Safeguarding considerations

We are monitoring decisions about planned Association events. However, we have taken the decision that all forthcoming Safeguarding training will be cancelled. We hope that this will start again in September.

It may be churches/ministers will seek to provide a live link for those in the churches to follow, either on Facebook or Youtube. Baptists Together have provided some advice on how to do this as well.

We are planning to develop some resources as an Association. We will let you know when these are available.

Prayer is vital. Baptists Together have produced some resources, which can be found on the above link.

We have taken the decision today to close the Association Office. The Regional Team will be working from home and the best way of contacting us in the first instance will be via email.

We are aware that if a minister needs to isolate, there may be specific situations that they are unable to respond to. If that happens, do let us know and we will seek to help if we can.

It would be great to share resources and stories during this time. If there is a way you are responding that might inform and inspire others, please let us know so that we can share it. Examples might include producing some reflections or preaching a recorded sermon; providing resources for prayer; how a particular action is responding to a community need. Let us encourage you to use our Facebook page for such purposes as well.

And finally, let us stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for our world, our churches and our communities. Let us pray for church leaders and churches, the government, our health service and all those providing care for the ill. Together let us pray for those who mourn, those who are fearful, those who are lonely and those struggling with varied practical issues.

Praying God’s blessing on you at this time.

 

From the Regional Team

South Wales Baptist Association 

54 Richmond Road, Cardiff, CF24 3UR

Tel: +44 02920 491 366