Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord today and the start of Thy Kingdom Come, it is our prayer that you are keeping safe and well. More than 35 million people have received one dose of the vaccination and nearly 18 million have received both. This is welcome news!
Monday 17 May will see further lifting of restrictions. Indoor hospitality can reopen and indoor entertainment can resume including cinemas, museums and children’s play areas. Up to 6 people or 2 households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors. All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances. Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events. While we welcome this, it is essential to remain vigilant, careful, safe and to continue with the relevant risk assessments when necessary.
Visitors to churches
This next stage in the relaxation of the restrictions allows for museums and galleries, amongst other places of entertainment, to reopen to the public. This means that our churches can reopen to visitors as well as those coming to us for public worship or private prayer. This particularly applies to the Cathedral and to the larger, historic churches in the Diocese. For such churches, there should be a revised risk assessment in place before reopening takes place. Visitors need to be kept safe and should maintain social distance. Face coverings should be worn (unless people are excused this requirement for health reasons), hand sanitiser should be available on entrance and exit and the ability to ‘check-in’ using the NHS app or another test and trace system should be in place. Visitors should be asked not to touch objects and surfaces. However, we need to balance all this with a warm welcome to our historic and beautiful churches.
Weddings and funerals update
At this week’s Downing Street briefing it was announced that under the Step 3 easement of restrictions up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes, as well as standalone life-cycle events. These can take place outdoors or at any indoor Covid-secure venue that is permitted to open.
- The number of people able to attend a funeral will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place.
- Your risk assessments will need to be refreshed to accommodate these new permissions.
Pastoral visits have been permissible for some months, but as six people or two households can meet indoors from Monday, this may allow others usually involved in your pastoral visiting to feel more able to take up this role in a more creative way once again.
Welcoming our Children and Young People back to church safely
Our CYP Team have written the attached comprehensive guidance to assist you as you plan to welcome children and young people back to church from 17 May.
Be assured of our continued prayers and good wishes,
The Coronavirus Task Group
(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and Sophia Jones)