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Coronavirus: Guidance on church worship (12 November)

Coronavirus ChurchWorshipGuidaThe UK Government’s Guidance for the safe use of places of worship published 29 June 2020 indicates that from 4 July, church buildings in England may be used for the following purposes, but only if measures for the safe use of the building are in place:
  • Worship services and events with attendance determined by social distancing requirements.
  • Weddings with up to 15 attendees (in England from 28 September).
  • Funerals with up to 30 attendees.
  • Private prayer. 
If the capacity of a building prepared for social distancing is less than thirty, then the maximum number of attendees at a wedding and funeral is reduced accordingly.
Please read this guidance to discover more. Please note that there are some differences between England and Wales and these are explained on the document.  

We recommend these issues are discussed carefully among church trustees alongside the Guidance on Re-Opening Baptist Churches.  Above all, we encourage you not to rush to re-establish gathered corporate worship but only to do so prayerfully and after the widest possible consultation.
  • Version 1: 30 June 2020 (9am)
  • Version 2: 2 July 2020 (3pm)
  • Version 3: 17 July 2020 (11:30am) - guidance on singing, pre-service and post-service times, and wedding receptions
  • Version 4: 20 July 2020 (12:45pm) - clarification on worship outdoors; and wedding reception numbers
  • Version 5: 23 July 2020 (14:30pm) - clarification on worship outdoors; life events to be held separately from services of worship; and wedding reception numbers
  • Version 6: 28 July 2020 (10:15am) - Addition to Introduction of request for face masks to be used in church worship in England; Changes throughout to reflect relaxation of rules in Wales; Addition in Children in Worship Services of a link to BU guidance on children’s and youth ministry.
  • Version 7: 31 July 2020 (5:00pm) - Change to Introduction to make face coverings mandatory from 8 August. Addition to Weddings to say that the Government have withdrawn their planned allowance of 30 people at weddings receptions which had been scheduled for 1 August. 
  • Version 8: 3 August 2020 (4:45pm) - Clarification on the requirement to wear face coverings from 8 August at weddings and funerals.
  • Version 9: 5 August 2020 (12:45pm) - Further clarification that we anticipate that there will be an exemption for the bride, groom and minister from wearing a face mask at a wedding.
  • Version 10: 13 August 2020 (4:00pm) - Confirmation in the Introduction and in Weddings and Funerals of the above changes regarding face coverings; Addition to Whole Church Worship of permission in Wales to use pipe organs.
  • Version 11: 20 August 2020 (3:30pm) - Addition to the Introduction of permission for a small number of singers to sing in front of a congregation indoors or outdoors in England; Inclusion under Weddings of renewed permission for receptions of 30 people in England; Inclusion under Weddings and Funerals of probably permission in Wales for receptions and wakes of up to 30 people from 22 August. Inclusion under Baptisms of permission for baptism by immersion in Wales. Addition of a new section on prayer meetings and homegroups.   
  • Version 12: 24 August 2020 (3:30pm) - Addition to Baptisms of permission to baptise by immersion in England.
  • Version 13: 27 August 2020 (4:20pm) - Complete re-write of guidance document to reflect the number of churches now meeting for live services and further clarifications from Government.
  • Version 14: 10 September 2020 (4:05pm) - Minor revisions throughout reflecting UK Government’s changes to social interaction guidance so that no more than 6 people from different households may socially interact whether indoors or outdoors. Note that each person should still remain physically distant from anyone from another household.
  • Version 15: 17 September 2020 (4:10pm) - Changes in What is Allowed, and in Weddings in light of face coverings becoming mandatory in Wales.
  • Version 16: 24 September 2020 (11:35am) - Clarification of rules regarding Worship Outdoors; Change to Weddings to note reduction in England of the number permitted from 30 to 15; Clarification of rules for England and Wales regarding small groups in Prayer Meetings and Bible Study.
  • Version 17: 25 September 2020 (12 noon) - Correction to Weddings to make clear that anyone working (minister, photographer, organist, premises manager, for example) is not included in the cap of fifteen people; Correction to What is Allowed to clarify the number of singers and the use of wind instruments. 
  • Version 18: 15 October 2020 (5pm) - Inclusion throughout of specific restrictions relating to the different tiers of Covid-alert level; Inclusion in Funerals of provision for wakes of up to 15 people, clarification regarding services of thanksgiving, and suggestions regarding those self-isolating following a positive Covid test; Further suggestions of what to consider if meeting in a home for a small group. 
  • Version 19: 16 October 2020 (5:20pm) - Clarification under Other Life Events about child dedications; Addition of requirement for baptisms to be held as part of a general worship service. 
  • Version 20: 22 October 2020 (9:55am) - Addition of Local Rules section at the beginning including ‘firebreaker’ restrictions in Wales. Addition of Annual Events section at the end including Remembrance and Christmas.
  • Version 21: 5 November 2020 (4pm) - Addition at the document’s beginning of lockdown restrictions in England; Changes to Annual Events to allow limited communal singing at Remembrance Day events and to reflect lockdown rules on mixing.
  • Version 22: 12 November 2020 (5pm) - Addition to Lockdown Restrictions in England of permission to hold funeral wakes for up to 15 people; Deletion of paragraph regarding firebreak restrictions in Wales; Relaxation under What is Allowed of rules regarding singing in Wales; Tightening of restriction under What is Allowed  so that only four from different households may socialise in Wales; Change in Outdoors Worship to limit the number of people allowed to worship outdoors in Wales to thirty, both off and on the premises; Change to Prayer Meetings and Bible Study to disallow group meetings in homes in Wales; Deletion from Annual Events of Remembrance information.
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The Government has recently updated their advice regarding coronavirus.
Updated to reflect the National Lockdown restrictions in England from 5 November until 2 December 2020.
Guidance for churches following the Government announcements
Guidance from our Legal Team on various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown
Guidance including of impact of lockdown restrictions in England
The UK Government published guidance on Protective Measures for Out-of-School Settings on 1 July.
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