Advice to churches about coronavirus

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Adam NiesciorukGet the latest advice, updates and resources on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic from the United Reformed Church.

Visit our Coronavirus resources page for a range of practical resources including signs, banners, badges and floor tape to remind people to stay apart and to wash their hands. 

You can also download free Coronavirus resources for churches from this page on our website

Latest Coronavirus updates

  • When should a church consider closing in light of increasing rates of Coronavirus? Read the latest advice from the United Reformed Church.

  • In a briefing on 19 October, the First Minister announced that Wales will be on a ’Firebreak’ national lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November. During that period, all places of worship must remain closed, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies, funerals and essential help to the public (as in the previous lockdown). This changed situation will affect three Sundays: 25 October, 1 and 8 November. For more information visit the Coronavirus circuit break: frequently asked questions page on the Welsh Government website. 

  • Read the latest advice from the URC on reopening gathered groups for children and youth

  • Read the latest advice about the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other acts of worship in England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Get the latest advice from the URC about the Test & Trace app and the QR code poster. All churches should generate and display an official NHS Test & Protect QR code poster from 24 September. Currently, the Governments in England and Wales are strongly encouraging places of worship amongst others to display the QR code poster, rather than requiring it. The United Reformed Church strongly encourages churches in England and Wales that are open for any purpose to comply with this.

  • There is some confusion as to which aspects of Church life are impacted by the new ‘rule of 6’. Voluntary and charitable organisations are exempt. This means that meetings and activities of church life are allowed to take place as long as they take place in a COVID Secure building with appropriate social distancing. Worship can continue as well as the various meetings of church life that help keep our work going, including Elders’ and Church Meetings. Many churches may find that the requirements of a COVID secure building, and the desire of people to be cautious mean that church meetings might best continue virtually. Follow this link to the government guidance on meeting together safely. You will notice that many of the activities that might normally take place in our buildings, in terms of groups we let space to, are also exempt and therefore lettings to such groups can continue where the building is COVID Secure and their activity compliant with relevant legislation and guidance.

  • Read the advice from the URC about face coverings during worship.

Here's the latest government advice for churches and places of worship. 

  • In a briefing on 19 October, the First Minister announced that Wales will be on a ’Firebreak’ national lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November. During that period, all places of worship must remain closed, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies, funerals and essential help to the public (as in the previous lockdown). This changed situation will affect three Sundays: 25 October, 1 and 8 November. For more information visit the Coronavirus circuit break: frequently asked questions page on the Welsh Government website. 

  • Safe use of places of worship - on 24 September the UK Government updated its published guidance for the safe use of places of worship. It also updated its guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships. There is separate advice for Scotland and and updated advice for Wales during the 'Fire break'.The United Reformed Church has also written advice on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other acts of worship in England, Scotland and Wales.

  • New social gathering restrictions - new restrictions for England, Wales and Scotland came into force on 14 September. The GOV.UK website states that venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines, such as religious services in places of worship, will be able to continue to host people as long as people visit in a group of no more than six. More than six people are allowed to visit if they all live together or are in the same support bubble. There is some confusion as to which aspects of Church life are impacted by the new ‘rule of 6’ within England. It is clear that voluntary and charitable organisations are exempt. This means that meetings and activities of church life too are exempt from this as long as they take place in a COVID Secure building with appropriate social distancing. So not only may worship continue, but also the various meetings of church life that help keep our work going, including Elders’ and Church Meetings. Many churches may find that the requirements of a COVID secure building, and the desire of people to be cautious mean that church meetings might best continue virtually.

    If you read the UK Government's guidance on meeting together safely, you will notice that many of the activities that might normally take place in our buildings, in terms of groups we let space to, are also exempt and therefore lettings to such groups can continue where the building is COVID Secure and their activity compliant with relevant legislation and guidance.Read the advice for Scotland and Wales.

  • Singing in churches - in its guidance for the safe use of places of worship, the UK Government states that small groups of professional or non-professional singers will be able to sing in front of worshippers both outdoors and indoors from 15 August. Singing in groups should be limited to a small, set group of people and should not include audience participation. The government also states that places of worship should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising any indoor or outdoor performances, paying particular attention to the sections on singing.
    There is separate advice on singing in churches for Scotland and Wales

For more information visit the GOV.UK, scotgov.uk or GOV.Wales.

Here's a regularly updated list of churches offering live streamed services, sermons as podcasts, recorded services on YouTube, Facebook and Zoom, audio files of services, sermons and other worship and Bible study resources.

All churches should generate and display an official NHS Test & Protect QR code poster from 24 September. Currently, the governments in England and Wales are strongly encouraging places of worship amongst others to display the QR code poster, rather than requiring them to use it. The United Reformed Church strongly encourages churches in England and Wales that are open for any purpose to comply with this.

In Scotland, the Protect Scotland contact tracing app is part of the NHS Scotland Test & Protect system.

The URC has produced a range of practical resources for churches and individuals to use during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

  • The URC Book Shop has signs, banners, badges and floor tape you can buy to remind people to keep to social distance rules and to watch their hands

  • You can also download free resources including posters, badges and stay safe seat cards from our Coronavirus resources page 

A range of risk assessments and risk assessment advice for you and your church. 

These free resources will help you get your church online and stay in contact with your congregation and the local community using social media.The guides cover a wealth of topics - from livestreaming church services to using social media to connect with people and much more. 

  • Digital church -  from advice on using Zoom, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook to a guide to livestreaming your church service, the URC has published 15 free resources to help your church on its digital journey

  • Download a hints and tips infographic from Matt Collins (JPEG) about how to get the best results when filming sermons. There is also a new illustrated hints and tips guide about using Zoom for meetings (JPEG) from Naomi RW. 

Advice on safeguarding during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The URC has produced a series of free guides with advice for churches and church organisations to help them stay in contact with and support their local community during and after lockdown. From a guide to Zoom etiquette to a guide for online and contactless giving  - there are now more than 20 resources available for you to read or download.

Read the latest advice from the United Reformed Church, Emerging into the New Normal (PDF). This resource provides the basis for further local discussion and some clear church policy. Download the new Personal Risk Assessment (PDF) mentioned in the document. Download an example of the Personal Risk Assessment (PDF).

The Methodist Church has produced a much needed resource, Mental Health and Wellbeing for ministers 2020. Ministers are supporting people through all kinds of difficulties, challenges and unprecedented anxieties. Used to being with and alongside others in illness, bereavement, the end of life, and amid mental health difficulties, the scope and scale of Covid-19 is new, challenging and potentially overwhelming.

A free booklet, New reality, same Mission, has been produced to enable individuals and local churches to explore questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the new reality which we all face.

Visit Together Apart - a digital hub for rural churches created by the the Arthur Rank Centre. Supporting rural Christians and churches during the pandemic, it has a range of resources including farming and agriculture support, practical resources, guidance and advice, resources for children and families, and weekly reflections.

Here are a selection of reflections and prayers to help you through the pandemic. 

There are simple steps each person can take to help slow down the spread of Coronavirus.

  • Wash your hands regularly

  • Keep to social distancing rules

  • Wear a face covering where it's appropriate

  • If you feel or become unwell, always seek the advice of your GP or call the NHS Helpline on 111 from landlines or mobiles

  • Regularly phone or keep in touch with those who are unable to come to church

  • Do not visit those in self-isolation, and follow local healthcare professional advice for visiting those in care homes or hospital. Take extra care with hand washing before and after visits

  • Remember to also clean your phone or device

  • Visit GOV.UK, scotgov.uk, nidrect or GOV.Wales to get the latest advice for where you live

The YourNeighbour.org website aims to support the work that churches are doing to be good neighbours in communities across the UK during the coronavirus crisis. It aims to offer support via a coordinated national response. 

Even though lockdown has eased, many people and families have found themselves with a lot of free time on their hands. Here are a few ways you can keep you and your family entertained. 

Church Action on Poverty has launched a campaign calling for a fresh start for families in Britain swept into debt by Covid-19

Updated: 27 October 2020
Image: Adam Niescioruk

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