This Guidance is offered to the Dioceses of England and Wales to offer advice for safe communal worship in Catholic churches during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The government has updated its guidance for the safe use of places of worship. As of 9 December 2021, England will move to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.
Following the statement by the Prime Minister on Wednesday 9 December, there has been a Government directive that further restrictions to mitigate against viral transmission, especially in the light of the new Omicron variant, will be imposed.
Summarising the Government directives:
The requirements for NHS Covid passes will not apply to places of worship and the acts of worship associated with them. However, any social gatherings linked to events in churches will need to comply with new requirements but only when 500 or more people are involved.
HM Government has made the wearing of face covering mandatory in Places of Worship from Friday 10 December 2021. However, there will be exemptions for those leading worship, public proclamation of scriptural readings or prayers, and those who are unable to wear face coverings and are exempt (see the link to the government guidance at the top of this page).
HM Government guidance states that “There is a reasonable excuse for someone to remove a face covering when it is reasonably necessary for them to sing, for example, if they are singing as part of a choir, or during a service, rehearsal or for a performance.”
The current Church guidance states that congregational singing should take place with face coverings in place and choirs and soloists may sing without such coverings.
As the Church moves towards Christmas celebrations which often involves carol services and other singing events, it is strongly recommended that congregational singing within church buildings continues with the applied face coverings.
With respect to the current situation with the Omicron variant it is important to ensure the following points are followed in our churches:
Rev. Canon Christopher Thomas
General Secretary, CBCEW
10 December 2021