West Bridgford Methodist Church Covid Safety Protocols and Guidance
The WB Methodist Church Covid Team met in advance of the Prime Minister’s expected statement about plans for the Monday 19th July reopening in England in order to identify a response. The team anticipated that he would announce the scrapping of all restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing, but also urge the public to behave responsibly in the coming weeks and months.
They were mindful of the news that the health secretary has admitted that there could be 100,000 new Covid cases a day over the summer and noted that there is some concern amongst members of the public, including church members and those who use our community rooms about the policy of scrapping all restrictions at once, with many believing that the government may be moving too quickly.
It seems likely that there will be a consensus towards ‘behaving responsibly’ rather than a universal ‘freedom’, and the Covid Team reflected this position in their discussions and decisions about a response to the probable announcement.
As a church we confirm that we should respect the ‘Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air’ guidance and ensure that we continue to
Make sanitiser and hand washing facilities available and encourage their frequent use
Display signage and ask group leaders to monitor that no-one who is unwell or who has been asked to self-isolate enters the premises
Request the use of face coverings in all communal areas of our building and in the church during worship services
Require restrictions on room capacities and the spacing of seating in rooms but relax them from the present levels to allow more participants without making areas too crowded
Insist that all spaces are well ventilated by opening doors and windows during use
Advise all group leaders to undertake a Risk Assessment for their activity to ensure Covid safety
Attendees will continue to be welcomed by group leaders at the entrance door, and the main door will remain locked during sessions. Only attendees will be allowed to enter, and others such as parents dropping off children will continue to be asked to wait outside
There will be no use of the foyer, corridors or stairwells as waiting areas
Session times will be arranged to minimise crowding on entry and exit
Group leaders will encourage hand sanitising and clean touch points in their room before and after use and prevent the sharing of equipment
Registers of attendees will be maintained, but these will not be for official ‘Track and Trace’ purposes. QR codes for check in will continue to be displayed
A decision on face coverings appropriate for the room and activity being undertaken will be agreed by the group leader and their members
In church, face coverings will continue to be worn during services with singing permitted behind the covering. Any subsequent decision on the removal of face coverings for singing will be agreed after further review
A suggested distancing of 1 metre between persons will be used to guide the Covid Team decisions on room capacity which will be announced shortly
In church, the coloured stickers for seating spacing will be largely removed and replaced with an advisory statement asking worshippers to leave two chairs spacing between themselves and members of another household. A small area with more distanced spacing, near to the open fire doors, will be reserved for anyone feeling uncomfortable with this relaxation
The purchase of a simple CO2 meter will be investigated to aid groups in monitoring the effectiveness of ventilation in meeting rooms
Whilst they remain strongly advised for the safety of all, there will be no requirement to submit individual Risk Assessments for monitoring
Tea bays and refreshment areas will be re-opened and made available for use by all groups, once rules for usage have been agreed. It is essential that any refreshments are safely prepared by a limited number of individuals and served only in the meeting rooms, preferably to seated persons, and not consumed in communal areas
Toilets are to be re-opened fully with signage relating to single occupancy removed and personal responsibility emphasised. The accessible toilet in the main corridor will be available as single use for any room users feeling uncomfortable with this relaxation
One way signage on the stairs will be removed as there are good sight lines and room users will respect the needs and space of others
At the conclusion of sessions, groups will continue to be asked to leave as promptly as possible, with any socialising undertaken outside, to enable continued Covid security of the entrance area
At the end of worship services, the congregation may socialise in the church, taking care to maintain some distance, or continue to use outside spaces for greetings and conversation
Implementation and Review
The Church Council Meeting on 13th July agreed that these decisions will begin to be implemented from Monday 19th July and it is envisaged that they will come fully into effect for all room user groups for the start of the new church year on 1st September.
The WB Methodist Church Covid Team will continue to keep this statement under review as government guidance continues to develop and in the light of experience. They request comments and suggestions from church members and the leaders and members of room user groups to ensure that the guidance is responsive to changing needs and circumstances. A formal review will be undertaken no later than 1st November 2021.