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Coronavirus: Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings


GuidanceOnRe-openingBaptistChuThe government has announced that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services, in addition to being open for private prayer which has been permitted since 13 June 2020.  We have written a new guidance leaflet which is intended to help churches work through the practicalities of re-opening.  Please note that whilst much of this leaflet is generally applicable it has been written primarily with a view to re-opening churches for worship services.  Your key legal requirement prior to re-opening is to carry out a risk assessment (we have provided a template for this) and then implement any control measures identified. 

Churches in England should refer to government guidelines and ensure that they operate within these as a minimum.   These should be regularly reviewed as they are updated frequently.  Please note that reference to 'Venue Managers' in the Government guidance should be interpreted by Baptist churches as being the church charity trustees, who carry the legal responsibility for the general control and management of the administration of the church.

For churches in Wales the regulations are different

These guidance notes are intended to help Baptist Church trustees/leaders/deacons to work through the issues involved in practicalities of re-opening their buildings and interpreting the guidance in a Baptist context.  These notes are not a replacement for the Government guidance and should be read in conjunction with that guidance.  If you identify any conflict between this document and the government guidance, the government guidance prevails. 

Appendices
Please click here to download Word version of the Appendices to the Guidance on re-opening church buildings document.

Guidance on Church Worship
Please also see the new Guidance on Church Worship from our Ministries Team.
 
Version 1: 30 June 2020 (9am)

Version 1.1: 30 June 2020 (12:45pm) - Link added to Risk Assessment template

Version 1.2: 30 June 2020 (10:45pm) - Link added to Government Guidance on Multi-Use Community facilities

Version 1.3: 1 July 2020 (10:45am) - Link to Risk Assessment templates updated

Version 1.4: 2 July 2020 (3:15pm) - Added Appendix 6 – Contractor Checklist and paragraph about management of contractors into section 2.  Added reference to collection of posters.  Made clear that face coverings are not required under government guidance where 2m distancing is possible, but still recommended.

Version 1.5: 9 July 2020 (4:15pm) - Clarified wording on waste in Section 2, added paragraph on transport in section 4, added comment on queuing systems at entrances in section 4, added paragraphs on Church Members’ Meetings and Prayer Meetings and Bible Studies in section 5, updated paragraph on children’s’ activities in section 5 to refer to new government and Baptists Together guidance, updated paragraph on social interactions in section 5, added additional detail to section on use of church for other activities, reworded reoccupation checklist item about pest control.

Version 1.6: 16 July (1:45pm) - Note on local regulations on first page.  Added text around interpreting scoring of risks in Introduction section.  Added text around how this fits with the mission of the church in the Introduction section.  Clarification in section 2 paragraph on building controls and ventilation that guidance is referring to fresh air ventilation.  Updated text on PPE in section 3 relating to young children and face coverings and face coverings being mandatory in shops from 24 July.  New paragraph on use of outside spaces in section 3.  Updated text on recording details of attendees to incorporate ICO guidance in section 4.  Updated wording on limiting social interactions in section 5. New paragraphs on use of the premises for filming services for broadcast and streaming of services in section 5. Updated wording on other uses of the premises, including external organisations hiring premises in section 6.

Version 1.7: 20 July (12:45pm) - Updated paragraph on use of outdoor spaces in section 3 to reflect clarified guidance on gatherings off church premises.   

Version 1.8: 23 July (2:30pm) - New paragraph in section 4, on recording where people sit to mitigate against the entire congregation being asked to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace

Version 1.9: 27 July (5:15pm) - The Welsh Government published new guidance on 20/07/20 which differs from the advice in England in a number of respects.  Most of the advice below is applicable but churches should read the Welsh guidance and take note of the following differences:

  • Organs cannot be played when anyone other than the organist is in the building.
  • Hymn books and bibles must be removed.
  • Welsh Government Test, Trace, Protect do not require the recording of attendance if 2m social distancing is maintained. If it cannot be maintained, then records should be kept in line with England.
  • Outdoor worship gatherings are limited to a maximum of 30 people.
  • Face masks – please read the Welsh Government’s advice on facemasks. The priority is on observing 2m social distancing rather than relying on face masks.
  • Hire of rooms by the community and for other uses is not covered by Welsh Government guidance.

Updated Section 3. Please note that in England face coverings should be worn in a place of worship even if 2m social distancing can be maintained.

Version 1.10: 31 July (5:00pm) - Updated Section 3. Please note that in England wearing face coverings in a place of worship will be mandatory from 8 August.

Version 1.11: 3 August (11:30am) - Update in Section 3.  New paragraph regarding face coverings and leading services.  Additional sentence clarifying that face shields / visors do not meet the requirement to wear a face covering.

Version 1.12: 3 August (4:45pm) - North of England – Local Restrictions. The government guidance applies in 2 ways to churches. The first is that households must not socialise at all in places of worship but maintain social distancing. The second is that if possible services should take place outside. If a service is arranged outside it cannot take place in someone’s garden. The requirements for weddings and funeral services remain unchanged from the rest of England.

Face coverings  – Weddings and Funerals in England. The government guidance on wearing face coverings in places of worship applies for weddings and funerals. No exemption has been made for the bride and groom who will therefore need to wear a face covering from 8 August while in the church building.

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The Government has recently updated their advice regarding coronavirus.
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The government has announced that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services, in addition to being open for private prayer
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Guidance for churches following the Government announcement that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services
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Guidance from our Legal Team on various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown
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Your key legal requirement prior to re-opening is to carry out a risk assessment
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Posters to download and print out to use around your church building, to help keep people safe
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