We have re-started our 0915 Sunday morning mass.
Although we’re now allowed to gather for public worship, there are still a number of restrictions on what we can do.
People are required to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops. It is now mandatory for everyone to also wear face coverings in church. We will also be asking people to use the hand sanitiser we’ll provide when they come into the building and to avoid touching anything as far as they can. We are still required to observe social distancing, keeping two metres apart, or one metre if we take additional precautions. Face coverings are one such precaution. The need for social distancing will limit the number of people who can be in the church building to 27 for Sunday services. Once this limit is reached we will not be able to let anyone else in the building, until someone has left.
We still aren’t allowed to have any singing during gatherings, nor to use any service books or booklets. We won’t be able to share the peace by moving around or touching, of course. We won’t be able to stay to socialise afterwards or serve refreshments. The risk assessment undertaken has indicated that we shouldn’t open the toilets.
The way communion is shared will also be different to what’s familiar: the Church of England’s guidance dictates that only the priest should drink the wine. As our priest is vulnerable another member of the church has been asked to distribute the bread by dropping it into people’s hands, as required by the guidance. The person distributing the bread will be wearing a face covering and, of course, will wash their hands first.
We are required to keep a record of everyone who has attended a gathering in the church building. (That just means we need contact details for each person, which we have to keep securely for three weeks in case they’re needed by the test and trace programme, following which the record will be destroyed.) If it turns out someone with coronavirus has been present at a gathering in the church building, the test and trace scheme will involve contacting everyone who was present at the same gathering to instruct us all to self-isolate for two weeks in case we’ve become infected.