Latest guidance from the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES

Covid-19 Route Map: Step 4 Guidance (a summary of key points)

Churches should continue to provide hand sanitiser at entrances and exits and face coverings are strongly recommended to be worn by those in church. General cleaning to a good standard, using commonly available cleaning fluids and detergents, with attention to frequent touchpoints is the standard to continue.

Care has to be taken to ensure that churches continue to be places where people feel safe to gather to worship. Each local community should examine the local conditions regarding the virus, and adopt an attitude of care for the people who desire to attend Mass.

Acts of Worship

As the restrictions are lifted public acts of worship can return to normal practice, with some exceptions for the time being. All of the above mitigations in creating safe spaces should be considered by the local communities as means of promoting public confidence in the covid security of churches. In addition the following are recommended as good practice. 1. Opening of Churches Churches can be left open and unsupervised for individual prayer during times when there are no public acts of worship. QR codes (or other means of attendee identification) should be clearly signposted at entrances and those entering encouraged to use them for test, track and trace purposes. Hand sanitiser should still be made prominently available for people to use. 2. Test, Track and Trace As long as the NHS Test, Track and Trace system is in operation, churches should continue to make available the means for people to sign in for acts of worship using the NHS app and the associated QR codes (or other means of attendee identification).

Recommended Key Mitigating Actions against Virus Transmission in Churches which should continue post 19th July 2021

  1. Sanitising hands on entry to churches and before liturgies as in current church guidance reduces risk.
  2. Ensuring people wear face coverings properly will reduce aerosol or droplet spread.
  3. Ventilating buildings well (especially during and between services) remains important.
  4. Maintaining a good general standard of routine cleaning using usual cleaning detergents is sufficient for regular use: a) Cleaning high frequency touch points in buildings after each act of worship. b) Thoroughly cleaning the church once a week.
  5. Clearing spillages of body fluids (faeces, blood, vomit etc) should always follow specific higher standards not just because of SARS-CoV-2 but because of other pathogens. This guidance is reproduced in Appendix 2, again for ease of reference. If your own cleaners have a specific protocol in existence for body fluid spillages, then follow that.
  6. If someone has tested positive for covid-19 who has used your building in the last 24 hours, and you are aware of this, then you should clean thoroughly using ordinary detergents.
  7. The risk of surface contamination while generally low is higher where there is long exposure time in the building, ventilation is poor, there is a high throughput of people, and where there is greater aerosol generation. Mitigating against these reduces risk.

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