Covid Q & A with the Welsh Government
On 24th June, I had the opportunity to attend a Q and A session to find out more about where we are with lockdown...
A Q&A session with the Welsh Government was held this afternoon. They started by acknowledging the importance of the role of faith groups and the recognition that it has been difficult not entering places of worship during the period of lockdown. However, they have heard reports of great innovation and creativity being shown, leading to increased numbers of people engaging with faith communities.
The Welsh Government is following a ‘traffic light’ approach to unlocking society and the economy. It includes such areas as ‘Education’, ‘Getting around’, ‘Exercise’ and so on. The full document can be read here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-05/unlocking-our-society-and-economy-continuing-the-conversation.pdf
One area is entitled ‘practicing faith’ and this is copied below:
LOCKDOWN: Closure of places of worship, with exceptions for funerals 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 latest round of easing began on Monday 22nd June in allowing places of worship to open for private prayer under physical distancing. Weddings are also now allowed to take place. There were a number of questions asked around these two areas.
OPENING OF BUILDINGS
The full government guidance is here:
A number of questions were raised about hygiene and those can be summarised as including:
· Hand cleansing, ideally with hot water and soap, at entry and exit points of the building. Hand sanitiser can be used as an alternative if necessary.
· A focus on cleaning any places that people may have touched with their hands. Particular thought should be given to handrails outside of the church building and door handles that might be touched before people wash hands on entering the building.
· Arranging chairs and marking floors to help people keep a 2m distance.
· A one-way system for worshippers through the building. If entry and exit takes place via the same door, staggered times of arrival and exit should be implemented.
· Shared resources should not be provided. If a prayer resource is produced, it should be on a sheet of paper that the person using can take away with them. People should bring their own Bibles, notebooks, pens, etc.
It is important to carry out risk assessments. The Methodist Church has a helpful template and you can find a link to it in the South Wales Baptist Association website:
Another resource has been produced by the Church in Wales:
It is not currently a requirement for places of worship to keep a register of who enters the building.
New guidelines are currently being produced.
· Whilst marriage ceremonies can happen now, couples need to give notice to register their wedding and not all registrars are yet taking notice; by the time they do guidelines will be available.
· It is likely (though not confirmed) that the number of people who can attend the wedding will depend on the place of worship and how many can safely be accommodated with social distancing.
· There is no relaxing on the 2 metre rule in Wales at this time.
Singing at weddings
There is great caution about the possibility of singing although the science is currently being investigated. It is likely that singing will not be permitted for some time. Follow up questions were asked about a soloist and face masks. A soloist is a possibility but they should not be facing the gathering. Whilst face masks might reduce the risk of infection whilst singing, it raises questions about where the face masks are placed once they are taken off. Further guidance should be available in the near future.
CAN WORSHIP GROUPS MEET TO RECORD SONGS OR BROADCAST LIVE WORSHIP?
This should only happen if the worship group is not made up of more than two households.
PRAYERS OUTSIDE IN OPEN SPACES
At the moment rules for gathering are that no more than two households should meet at the same time. It is under consideration as a possibility at the next review.
This is part of the consideration for the next review on 9th July.