Coronavirus guidelines for church – Latest update 23rd July 2021

Following the revised guidance for the safe use of places of worship published by the government on Fri 16th July, and the Step 4 Guidance published by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales on the same date, we would like to share with you the changes which will come into place in our parish for this summer period.

It is important to say again that the general principles of continuing to create a safe environment in places of worship and pastoral centres, halls, etc. are not abandoned. It is also really important that we remain aware that for some in our community the changes will signal a much-needed step towards normality, whilst for others they will cause further anxiety and uncertainty. Let us pray that we may all make wise decisions for ourselves, aware of the needs and concerns of those around us.

Where not advised differently below, all other current requirements will remain in place, e.g:

  • bookings for weekend Masses;
  • we will require the wearing of face coverings/masks;
  • Holy Communion will be offered only under one kind;
  • we will ask all those entering the church to use hand sanitiser;
  • social distancing;
  • there will be no physical sign or peace;
  • there will be no holy water in the stoops or font;
  • we will continue to clean the churches regularly.

Changes with Immediate Effect

Weekday Masses, liturgies and private prayer – members of the congregation (who will be wearing masks) will be allowed to join in with any singing if they wish.

Changes with effect from the weekend 31 st July / 1 st August – St. Stephen’s 9:15am; St. Gregory’s 11am; St. Peter’s 12noon; St. Peter’s Sunday 5:30pm

Maximum numbers will be increased for these Sunday Masses. The numbers will be reviewed, and possibly gradually revised, over the course of the summer.

Social distancing will be encouraged but not enforced at these Masses.

Parishioners will have the option of picking up simple sheets with “Please leave a space” as they enter the church. These can be put beside them to allow for distancing.

Members of the congregation will be allowed to join in with any singing if they wish. We are very grateful to our small group of musicians available over the summer to lead music, so the hymns and chants are likely to be simpler ones in the main for now.

Changes with effect from the weekend 31st July / 1 st August – all other Masses

We will be starting to re-introduce Altar Servers.

Other Changes for the Summer Period

We will not be celebrating the 3:30pm Saturday Family Mass after 24thJuly.

There is no longer a limit on numbers for baptisms (outside of Mass), weddings or funerals. Various guidelines for these celebrations will need to be discussed on a case to case basis with the priest or deacon
leading the service.

We are currently reviewing how and when we can best resume visits to people’s homes and care homes for the distribution of Holy Communion but hope to be able to begin phasing this back in over the summer months.

We hope to return in September to more or less a “pre-COVID” timetable and will follow up with more details soon.