Edition 1: Red Phase - Re-opening private (personal) Prayer - 19 June 2020 Introduction This guidance has been produced to help those responsible for managing churches assess their buildings and activities and develop a risk assessment to manage the risks posed by Coronavirus Covid-19. Places of Worship have been closed by law since March 2020 and the Welsh Government has set out a broad framework for re-opening based on a ‘traffic-light’ approach as public health advice indicates the restrictions can be eased. The traffic lights are:
Lockdown: Closure of places of worship with exceptions for funeral 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 details of re-opening in terms of precisely what will be permitted to happen in a place of worship at each stage will be defined under protocols being developed by Welsh Government. By law, those responsible for places of worship are required to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a 2-metre distance is maintained between persons on the premises. Physical distancing is the most fundamental principle in re-opening any church building. Other risk management measures relate to hygiene (hand washing, sanitising, personal protective equipment) and premises and equipment cleaning though the need for these will vary depending on the activity being undertaken. PART 1 of this guide is a checklist to help you to consider your situation and the appropriate steps to manage the risks presented by Covid-19. It has been developed to be a document that grows as each stage of relaxation is clarified. Take time to work through each of the questions, using the notes provided to help you answer them. PART 2 is a risk assessment template to enable you to record your proposed actions from the checklist. This should be approved by your Archdeacon (or other nominated person) and shared with your team so all are aware of the arrangements. Please Note: This guidance is to assist local churches with re-opening their building and reflects but does not substitute, Welsh Government legislation and guidance. Please see Welsh Government guidance PART 1: CHECKLIST RED PHASE: OPENING OF PLACES OF WORSHIP FOR PRIVATE PRAYER UNDER PHYSICAL DISTANCINGThis phase of re-opening gives the legal right for churches to be opened for individuals or households for private (personal) prayer.
Activities such as services and prayers that will encourage people to gather cannot take place.
Furthermore, religious activity involving physical contact, speaking in unison, singing or chanting and which utilise shared equipment will not be permitted
A person cannot lead devotions or prayer of any sort
Community activities such as Sunday schools, youth groups and social gatherings cannot take place.
Towards the re-opening of churches (CinW Statement)
While churches in England will be able to open for private prayer from next week, that will not be the case in Wales. All church buildings here remain closed until further notice. This means churches will not be open for public worship or solitary prayer. However, detailed discussions are taking place with Welsh Government over the possible re-opening of churches, led by the Archbishop with the Faith Communities Forum. The Church in Wales' bishops have issued the following statement: "A protocol for re-opening is being developed by Welsh Government in the context of the specific legislative context in Wales. "This protocol will inform guidance from the Church in Wales on how churches can be re-opened safely. This guidance will be a practical tool to help you plan your future opening and mitigate risks of transmission of Covid-19. The guidance will centre on procedures for social distancing, hygiene and premises cleaning. "When the law permits, we envisage a gradual opening of churches based on a clear demonstration of compliance with the protocol and guidance – our primary concern is for the health of those that will use our churches again. "Welsh Government has confirmed that there will be no change to the current rules in Wales before the First Minister’s next announcement on the 18th June."