Sprowston Methodist Church – Covid 19 Action Procedures

Revised Issue Dated 22/07/2021

 

This revised Procedure has been created using ‘Covid-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship’, published on 16th July 2021 and The Methodist Church  guide-to-managing-your-church-building-20.07.21.

The Procedure is reviewed and recorded (Appendix A – Procedure Review & Risk Assessment) at during the regular Church Leadership meetings and amended as required.

The links provided on line by the Guidance are viewed weekly by the Health and Safety Co-ordinator and the changes noted.

Section 1 – Everyday use of Church premises

1.1          Introduction

This guidance procedure is for:

  • members of the public who may be attending a place of worship
  • members of the public or professionals who may be responsible for places of worship
  • professionals who work at places of worship

COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others. Venue managers should follow this guidance issued by the government and when applied appropriately it will help us all to stay safe and protect others by controlling the spread.

1.2          Keeping yourself and others safe

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks. While no situation is risk free, there are steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, should not attend. They should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.
  • If someone has been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19, or they are the close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate and not attend. Please refer to guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
  • Social distancing and wearing a face covering are now a personal choice. People are encouraged to respect other attendees and those working who may wish to adopt a more cautious approach. The Methodist Church recommends that face coverings are worn when inside the building.
  • The NHS COVID-19 app is a vital part of NHS Test and Trace in England and Wales. Using the app helps stop the spread of the virus by informing you that you have been in close contact with someone who has since tested positive for coronavirus, even if you don’t know each other.
  • Several simple and effective personal hygiene behaviours can also continue to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. These include:
  • washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and washing your hands before and after if you do need to touch your face (for example to put on or take off your face covering)
  • covering your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze, or sneezing into the crook of your elbow (not your hands) if you do not have a tissue

1.3          Social distancing and capacity

From 19 July social distancing restrictions no longer apply. This means that you do not need to implement social distancing (2 metres or 1 metre plus with mitigations).

You may choose to limit the close contact you have with people you do not usually live with. You may also choose to take a free test before being in close contact to help manage periods of risk.

These are personal choices which can help reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

It is important to consider that others may wish to take a more cautious approach as we open up. We should all be considerate of this, and provide the opportunity and space for others to reduce close contacts if they wish.

Please refer to the guidance on how to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for further information and the actions to take to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

1.4          Handling objects and communal resources

Surfaces can become contaminated with viruses like COVID-19. Once contaminated, touching them can transfer viruses to people’s eyes, nose or mouth. From there, viruses can enter someone’s body and infect them. This means that, touching or kissing objects that are handled communally including consumables, carries a risk of catching or spreading a virus.

The use of shared communal objects, including consumables, is now a personal choice. However, you are advised to follow the advice on personal hygiene.

Those responsible for places of worship should facilitate access to hygiene facilities, for example by providing cleaning facilities and hand sanitiser.

Note:

  • There are hand sanitation stations at entrance and exits.
  • Visiting Leadership Team members / photocopying person to clean as they go with anti-bacteria cleaner.
  • Anti-bacteria spray bottles and kitchen rolls / paper towels stored on-site for cleaning pre, post and during building use.

1.5          Food and drink

Where food and drinks are consumed, staff and attendees should follow the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services.

There is no requirement for guests to be placed on socially distanced tables though they should consider the risks of not maintaining social distancing, as set out in the guidance on how to stay safe and prevent the spread.

1.6          Collection of Contact Details

Note: The Church continues to maintain the NHS Test and Trace register.

The NHS Test and Trace register (Appendix B, Track & Trace – Building Entry Log) situated by each main entrance door is to be completed by all visitors as required. The test and trace register station displays signage and communication of purpose. The register is retained onsite in COVID file for 21 days then securely shredded.

Note Visitors using the NHS QR Code (displayed at building entrance) and NHS Covid-19 App are not required to register.

1.7          Casual Visitors, Contractors and Delivery Drivers

Casual visitors, contractors and delivery drivers who need access to the building should be met onsite before entry, and information and guidance given. The NHS test and trace register is to be completed for each person involved. The mandatory NHS Test & Trace contact details are to be collected (Appendix B, Track & Trace – Visitors Contact Details).

Note Visitors using the NHS QR Code (displayed at building entrance) and NHS Covid-19 App are not required to register.

Section 2 – Facilitate Worship / Prayer/ Funerals and Commemorative events to celebrate the life of a person who has died

2.1          Preparation

Doors and windows are to be open before, during and after the service where practicable, Steward controlled. Fire Safety and Safeguarding should be taken into consideration. The Stewards will ensure that all doors and windows are closed before securing and locking the building.

  •  Numbers Attending and Social Distancing

There are no legal restrictions on numbers of people attending worship, churches activities or third-party activities, and social distancing measures have been removed. It is important, through conversation and risk assessment though, to be open and understanding of individual concerns and anxieties and accommodate them where possible. Particularly for those who are vulnerable or at greater risk of being infected.

Note: The Hall is used to provide the opportunity and space for others to reduce close contacts if they wish.

 2.3          Test and Trace

Note: The Church continues to maintain the NHS Test and Trace register.

The NHS Test and Trace register (Appendix B, Track & Trace – Building Entry Log) is to be updated and produced by the Pastoral Secretary or nominated Steward for each in-house event. The register is to include all known members and adherents.

The Steward situated before the entrance to the worship areas is to record all attendees. The test and trace register station is to display signage and communication of purpose. Visitor’s names and contact details (telephone number) are to be added to the list. The register is retained onsite in COVID file for 21 days then securely shredded.

Note Visitors using the NHS QR Code (displayed at building entrance) and NHS Covid-19 App are not required to register.

2.4          Music and Singing

Singing, music and performances are now all allowed in places of worship in any setting, indoors and outdoors. It should still be considered that such activities can potentially increase the spread of the virus through droplets, particularly in larger groups.

Note: Face coverings are to be kept on for singing during church services to reduce this risk.

All musicians/singers will play/sing from the dedicated space in front of the communion rail. The front row of chairs on both sides of the aisle is limited to use by the musicians and their family only and is labelled as such.

Equipment to be set up and taken down by musician(s)/singer(s).

2.5          Face Covering and Exemptions

The wearing of face coverings upon arrival and inside the building is mandatory. Face coverings are available for anyone who does not have one. Stewards to wear full face visors to enable clear communication and protection.

Exception is given for attendees exempt from mandatory mask wearing. However, a face covering should be worn when distributing communion or other consumables.

2.6          Collection & Donations Box
The collection box is situated just inside entrance to building. Box to be emptied into cloth cash bag by a gloved Steward and locked in the cupboard in the Minister’s office for 72 hours minimum before counting. Minister’s office and cupboard is accessed by registered key holders only.

2.7          Hand Sanitisers

There are Steward controlled hand sanitation stations at entrance and exits.

2.8          Services

The Steward’s prayer with the minister/preacher to take place in the worship room.

Scripture readings will be from the pulpit or lectern.

2.9          Holy Communion

The elements are delivered and used as directed by the Minister and Stewards.  For the Holy Communion procedure see Appendix F – Holy Communion.

  • Communal Books

Communal books of any sort are not to be used preferably (or should be stored away after use for a minimum of 72 hours). Where practical any words or texts are displayed using a projector or through individual printed material, which can be removed or destroyed. 

2.11        Illness

If somebody should be taken ill during a service, COVID must be presumed. The person will remain in their seat and a blessing given to the congregation. Instructions to get tested will be given and the Stewards are to ensure that the building is safely cleared of all but essential persons.

Should someone test positive for Covid-19 when in the building the NHS Test and Trace service are to be informed.  Refer to the Places of Worship Action Card .

2.12        Notice Sheets

Printed notices handed out by a gloved Steward. Notices are sealed in two bags by the copy person 72hrs before service and not touched until distributed.

2.13        Audio/Visual System

Computer/sound/video camera operated by hand sanitised users and are to be anti-bacteria cleaned before and after use. Anti-bacteria wipes/spray and hand sanitiser on kept on system desk.

2.14        Ablutions

The Stewards are to check liquid soap supplies and paper towel supplies before every service. See Appendix E- Toilet Cleaning Log.

2.15        Cleaning

General statements:

  • Keep the areas being used in the building clean and prevent transmission from any touching of contaminated surfaces
  • Paper hand towels only in toilets with open topped, bagged bin. Disposed of immediately after service by gloved Steward and cleaners.
  • Visiting Leadership Team members / photocopying person to clean as they go with anti-bacteria cleaner and fill in the visiting premises track and trace register
  • Anti-bacteria spray bottles and kitchen rolls / paper towels stored on-site for cleaning pre, post and during building use.
  • All doors left open where practicable after having handles sanitised by cleaner or Stewards team.
  • As many windows as practicable left open after catches sanitised by cleaner or Stewards team.
  • If somebody should be taken ill during a service, COVID must be presumed. The government guidance for cleaning to be followed – details on display in cleaning room.

2.16        Hygiene

Stewards are to ensure that disposable gloves, face coverings, anti-bacteria spray bottles, liquid soap and kitchen rolls / paper towels supplies checked before service.

Doors, external and internal, are to be left open where possible to minimise contact with handles etc. Fire Safety and Safeguarding should be taken into consideration.

2.17        Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All Stewards to wear full face visors to enable clear communication and protection. Disposable gloves are to be worn as required.

2.18        Information and Guidance

General statements:

  • The preachers are instructed to report to a Steward upon arrival.
  • Covid 19 information is projected before the services. Verbal instructions from a Steward is given to those assembled from a printed script.
  • The church premises has been provided with signage and information to ensure best COVID safety. The Church Leadership team identifies and updates information and guidance as changes occur https://www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/property/coronavirus-guidance-for-property/