Updated Government guidance on COVID-19 safety measures in places of worship
The UK Government has today (27 July 2020) updated its guidance for the safe use of places of Worship during the pandemic.
The Council is determined to work with residents, businesses and government to reduce the risks to all citizens from becoming infected by COVID-19 and sets out below advice on complying with this guidance and suggested good practice to keep all worshippers safe.
Places of worship must produce a risk assessment for all areas (inside/outside) detailing how the premises will be made COVID secure:
It is good practice for the risk assessment to cover: -
- A map/layout of the area showing the event that is to take place;
- The number of people allowed in the event while maintaining 2 metre or 1 metre-plus social distancing between household bubbles;
- Detail how numbers will be controlled
- Consideration should be given to marking out areas or seats to be occupied to assist worshippers in social distancing
- Control measures in place for access to and egress from the event;
- Risk reduction measures for common touch points, including toilets;
- A cleaning schedule for communal areas
- Items owned by the individual to aid worship such as a prayer mat or religious text, can be brought in but should be removed again by the worshipper
- Communication plan to encourage individuals to risk assessment themselves before attending, e.g. advise for elderly, those with health conditions, and clear exclusion of anyone with symptoms and signposting to testing;
- How local businesses will be informed of the potential for a high number of visitors before and after the event;
- The name(s) of the responsible individuals in control of the event;
- How test and trace measures will be addressed if an individual subsequently tests positive who has attended the event during the period of infectivity.
- Where possible consideration should be given to staggering entry times to reduce the number at any specific time
- How singing and chanting will be minimised
- The safety of young people, the elderly and vulnerable persons should be considered.
It is good practice for the risk assessment to be published on the website a minimum of 24 hours before the activity to enable people to comply;
- Places of worship are required to supply proper access to sanitisers and/or soaps to enable people to wash hands on accessing the place of worship and at any public toilet provision.
- Places of worship are required not to use shared items and to encourage people not to have personal contact with others such as hand shaking etc.
- Places of worship are required to encourage the wearing of face coverings, especially when indoors. If face coverings cannot be used during communal worship, then 2 metres social distancing must be observed at all times. If 1metre-plus social distancing is to be used, then face coverings must be worn.
- Places of worship are required to detail any other measures that are being taken to minimise the risk of infection and to ensure the maximum number will not be exceeded.
This guidance applies to communal worship, including prayers, devotions or meditations led by a Minister of Religion or lay person.
It is important to ensure that other faith setting guidance is adhered to, e.g. this does not supersede the restriction on numbers attending funerals or weddings which are set out in national guidance.
Read the guidance in full.