A statement on Covid-19 guidelines from the Vicar

A statement on Covid guidelines from the Vicar

With the announcement of Plan B guidelines in response to the arrival of the Omicron strain of Covid in this country, I, like many of you, held my breath as we awaited a reaction from the Church of England. Having been through various stages of guidelines since March 2020, it was clear that some changes were heading our way. Throughout various iterations of policy, we at S Barnabas’ have been assiduous in our adherence to government guidelines without the sacrifice of our corporate worship. Last night the new guidelines from the CofE were published. Importantly – at the moment – the changes for our worshipping experience will not be dramatic, and all of our Christmas services will continue as scheduled, as well as our Mass each day of the week.

Here are the notable changes:

  • We will be able to continue singing together in church (which will be a welcome change after its prohibition over last Advent and Christmas).
  • Facemasks will be required in church, as a legal requirement. Masks may be removed when you are singing, reading lessons, receiving Communion, if you are eating or drinking. If you are exempt, if the wearing of a mask causes you severe mental distress, or if you are under the age of eleven, you will not be required to wear a mask.
  • Covid passports will not be required in churches.
  • Social distancing will not be required in church, but we should all respect the wishes those who desire to do so (we have plenty of space in our building!).
  • Holy Communion will continue to be administered in one kind (only the Sacred Host). You are encouraged to sanitise your hands before and after receiving Communion. I will wear a mask during the administration of Communion.
  • Refreshments will be served afterwards in disposable cups and with strict adherence to Covid guidance.
  • We will continue to provide sanitiser, and strongly encourage you to always sanitise your hands on entering the church.
  • Sunday School is allowed to continue, with those eleven or older wearing masks.

According to the latest guidance, “The responsibility for making decisions about how to proceed lies with the incumbent. This applies to acts of worship, to events run by the PCC or church community, and to decisions on whether to hire out spaces or allow other events to proceed. Incumbents should feel empowered to make locally appropriate decisions, including taking different approaches to different types of services and events where the risks may vary.” Please know that I will, as I have at each stage, take our safety and health very seriously.

What we can rejoice in is the fact the we will be able to gather together safely throughout Christmas to celebrate the Word made flesh and to join our voices with those of the angels, as we sing Gloria in excelsis Deo!