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Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Coronavirus Guidance and FAQs

This page contains detailed guidance to support parishes through the coronavirus pandemic.

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Log of recent updates

This log lists the most recent changes to this page so you can see what has been added or updated recently.

18 June 2021- Updated Church of England guidance for the period from 21 June concerning weddings, public worship and funerals in News

16 June 2021- Updated Government guidance for weddings taking place after 21 June in News and Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Ordinations and Confirmations

 

 

1) News  

 

Friday 18 June 2021

The Church of England has published updated guidance for the period from 21 June on:

 

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Following the Government's announcement on 14 June, that the transition to the next step of the roadmap would be delayed until  at least 19 July, the guidelines for the current step remain in place. However the Government website explains that the attendance cap for weddings taking place after 21 June has been changed as follows:

"From 21 June, there will no longer be a maximum number cap for attendees set out in law. Instead, the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. This will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of the venue or outdoor space, and the measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19."

 


 

2 General Guidance

NB In many cases Government and Church of England guidance has not been updated to reflect the most recent Step in the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown. Please pay particular attention to the publication date on the guidance and read the guidance accordingly. 

 

This section highlights the main sources of guidance from Chelmsford Diocese, The Church of England and the Government.

 

Church of England guidance

 

 

Government guidance 

The following guidance has been updated since the introduction of the new national lockdown:

 

 


3 Church Activity

NB In many cases Government and Church of England guidance has not been updated to reflect the most recent Step in the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown. Please pay particular attention to the publication date on the guidance and read the guidance accordingly. 

Public worship 

 

Template posters and banners

This section provides links to posters that you may wish to display around your church buildings

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a tragic increase in incidents of domestic violence. We are encouraging our churches to display posters in and around their church buildings to advertise helplines and other services for victims of domestic violence. Posters and other resources are available at the following.


Individual private prayer 

Churches opening for individual private prayer should read and follow the guidelines below and complete a risk assessment.


Holy Communion 


Singing and choirs

Guidance from the Church of England at  17 May 2021

Indoors

A single small group of singers - whether amateur or professional – can perform, or rehearse for performance, where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible. Since April 12, this can include children’s choirs, whether from one school or more than one, following Government advice for out of school settings.
Communal singing, by the congregation, should not take place and strict physical distancing should be observed.

Outdoors

When communal worship takes place in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the Performing Arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow physical distancing rules. People can gather in groups of up to six or two households but participating groups should not mingle. A ‘household’ can include a linked support bubble. Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place.
 
The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has produced more detailed resources on singing and music.


Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Confirmations, Ordinations

Church of England guidance documents on life cycle events 

 

Updated Government guidance on attendance at weddings (Updated 14/06/21)

The Government have updated their guidance relating to people attending weddings. The guidance can be read in full here and states: "From 21 June, there will no longer be a maximum number cap for attendees set out in law. Instead, the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. This will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of the venue or outdoor space, and the measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19."

 


Children and Young People 

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly.

Mission and Ministry with young people

The Church of England have published a new resources document for Mission and Ministry with young people and children. (Updated 17/01)


Communtiy Activity and Church Halls 

Guidance  from the Government

 

Foodbanks

Foodbanks should continue as they have during lockdown. Please read the Foodbank Advice from the Trussel Trust

The Diocese have also  been in touch with Ecclesiastical Insurance regarding the opening of church buildings and halls to run foodbanks and other essential community services. Ecclesiastical state the following:

As long as the activities are co-ordinated and run under the auspices and control of the individual PCC, their Employers' Liability and Public Liability covers will respond accordingly, subject to following Government guidelines and the PCC's safeguarding, long working policies etc.

Where volunteers are not usually church volunteers, the PCC must supervise and co-ordinate these individuals in relation to safeguarding etc. They should also keep a list of the volunteers.

If the PCC are just providing the building to enable a third party to run the foodbanks, as the PCC will effectively just be the Property Owner, the PCC’s Public/Property Owner liability cover will respond.

We would advise the PCC to ensure they are following the Public Health England and NHS guidelines, and for the PCC to ensure their health and safety policies are up to date. The Church of England have some useful information on their website including a link to the Trussell Trust website which is specific guidance for foodbanks.

The third party organiser should also have their own liability cover in place and should again ensure they carry out Health and Safety risk assessments.


Providing pastoral support

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Organ playing and bell ringing (advice from the Church of England)

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

Organs

The organ can be played, including during public worship.

Bells 

The Church of England state that bells can be rung if the guidance they have agreed with the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is followed.  The guidance can be read here 

Please ensure your ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.


Face Coverings

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Vaccines and Vaccination

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


NHS Test and Trace

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

The NHS Test and Trace app went live on 24/ 09 and churches are encouraged to print out and display a QR coded poster in their buildings to support the programme. This is an easy way to support Test and Trace without having to collect visitor data yourselves. Please read the updated Church of England guidance document to find out how you can do this. Please note that churches and church halls hosting certain types of non-worship activities are legally required to participate in the programme.


Protecting those at additional risk from Covid-19 


Safeguarding

The Church of England have published guidance on Safeguarding during the Coronavirus Pandemic which can be read here.

As more of us are now using digital and video communications in our ministry it is important that we are aware of the safeguarding implications and following best practice. Please ensure you are familiar with the following guidance and share it with those in your parish who organise online meetings or worship activity.

  1. Advice for using video conferencing for youth work during Covid-19
  2. Using Zoom for video meetings with young people
  3. Keeping children safe online

Live streaming and copyright

The following guidance is from the Church of England

CCLI

CCLI introduced a streaming licence in mid-March 2020. It is available to any church which holds a CCLI Church Copyright Licence, which the majority of Church of England churches do. For many churches, this licence will cover them for their streaming activity:

  • For churches who are streaming their services via YouTube or Facebook, the CCLI Streaming Licence will cover them for live worship music performed as part of that stream. (This would include services streamed or webcast via YouTube but embedded into the church’s own website).
  • You can check on the CCLI website as to whether permissions for a particular hymn or song are covered by them.
  • If the church is hosting the stream/webcast on their own website, they will need the PRS for Music Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) in addition to the CCLI Streaming Licence.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence includes the right to show the words on screen.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence allows a church to make recordings of the services available on their website indefinitely provided you keep renewing your streaming licences.
  • These licences cover ‘live’ music performances. If a church is using recorded music as part of the stream, additional rights come into play. Commercially available CDs or music recordings cannot be played unless specific permission is granted by the copyright holder.

One Licence

Another license, One License is available which covers an additional range of church and choral music e.g. Taize, GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, Wild Goose Resource Group, Kevin Mayhew.

  • The Church of England uses both a One Licence and CCLI Streaming Licence for the weekly online services to enable access to a broad range of Christian music.
  • The same rules described above over seeking permission for ‘recorded’ performance still apply.

Rights-free music from the Church of England, St Martin in the Fields and the Royal School of Church Music

  • The Church of England, working with St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Royal School of Church Music, is providing a resource of rights-free music for Church of England churches to use on streamed services, via the A Church Near You resource hub providing you have a CCLI Streaming Licence. Read the press release for more details.
  • There are several other  Christian organisations that provide apps or software that provide backing tracks for worship, some of which are giving churches permission to use their pre-recorded tracks as part of their streams. Please carefully check first before using this material.

Using other copyrighted material

  • Permission should also be sought from the owner(s) of any other creative works included in the service. If reproducing bible verses, or liturgy, usually there will be copyright information in the front of the publication, and usually they will allow for a certain proportion to be reproduced.
  • For any images etc. the same rules would apply as in normal circumstances. Never assume that you can take an image found on Google and use it in a church service or include it in a service sheet or similar without permission. Read our guidance on using images here.
  • Regarding a Service Sheet, as long as there are appropriate licences/permissions in place, making that service sheet available online should be fine.

Advice on using Zoom to stream services

Churches using Zoom to stream services need both the CCLI Streaming Licence and the PRS for Music LOML. This is because Zoom doesn’t currently have an agreement with PRS for Music as YouTube and Facebook do.


Delivering printed communications

Parishes are encouraged to use digtial and telephone communications as the Covid-19 may live for some time on paper or card. Where paper communications are used, precautions should be taken to minimise the risk of transmission.

 


 

 

 

4) Building maintenance and management

NB In many cases Government and Church of England guidance has not been updated to reflect the most recent Step in the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown. Please pay particular attention to the publication date on the guidance and read the guidance accordingly. 


Heating and ventilation 


Cleaning 



Construction work


Clocks and organ maintenance 

Clocks can be wound and the time changed if a safe working practice can be established with clock winders. If the clock is hand wound and has been left to run down completely, the weight lines should be checked before the clock is wound. When the weights reach the floor or other resting location, especially for the strike and chime trains, it is possible for the clock to run on a little and for the lines to then jump off the pulleys. Winding the clock without first checking the location of the line can end up with the weight hanging directly on the line rather than with the weight line running over the pulley. With very heavy weights it might not feel wrong to the winder. Caution is needed.

The organ humidifier and blower can also be serviced. If your organ has a humidifier that has been turned off for an extended period of time please seek advice from the company that maintains it about bringing it back into use.


 

 

5) Governance and finance

NB In many cases Government and Church of England guidance has not been updated to reflect the most recent Step in the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown. Please pay particular attention to the publication date on the guidance and read the guidance accordingly. 

Annual Meetings

New guidance from the Church of England website published WB 29 March 2021

The legislation for Step 1 of coming out of lockdown does not permit physical meeting in churches or other buildings other than for communal worship or the provision of essential voluntary and public services. These restrictions mean currently if you can, you should hold PCC or APCM meetings online or by telephone. However, if you cannot do this, you can hold these meetings in person only if this is necessary to provide voluntary or charitable services.

The 4 Step plan from the Government indicates that physical meetings can go ahead from Step 3. The earliest date for Step 3 to come into effect is the 17th May, but this could be later depending on the situation at the time. 

The Church Representation Rules allow for APCM meetings to take place up to 31st May and individual dioceses may choose to extend that deadline. If a parish holds a meeting before Step 3 is reached it should do so remotely - in the case of an annual meeting that requires special provision to be made by the Bishop. Some Bishops may give a general permission for APCMs including meetings of parishioners to take place online. If you are unsure about the deadline for holding your APCM or what special provision to meet remotely has been made in your diocese then please consult with your Archdeacon.

For a physical meeting, as for a hybrid or online meeting, Sections M5-M7 of the Church Representation Rules must be covered but trying to reduce the length of the meeting is advised. Widely sharing papers in advance of meetings will enable the time spent to be kept as short as is needed, rather than reading papers out at the meeting, and submitting questions in advance may also help reduce the meeting time.

 

Chelmsford Diocese Guidance on Holding APCMs by electronic means.  Updated 7 April 2021

The permission to hold APCMS electronically has been uxtended until 31 May 2021. The Bishop's Instrument can be read here.

The previous instrument can be read here and the associated guidance note is here.

 

 


PCC decision making and online meetings

  1. Based on guidance from the Provincial Vicars General and Provincial Registrars, we consider that parochial church councils can, if they wish, meet using virtual means such as Skype or Zoom which enable the members to see and hear each other. 
  2. However, care must be taken so that members of a PCC who are unable to participate in a meeting in that way are not excluded from the PCC’s deliberations and decision making. The Chair should take steps to ensure that they are able to participate so far as possible, including where necessary by means of the procedure for conducting business by correspondence set out in rule M29 of the Church Representation Rules (CRRs). The Church Representation Rules can be read here.
  3. We recommend that following a virtual meeting, decisions such as the authorising of expenditure, entering into contracts or those that require a formal resolution of the PCC are put in written form and circulated for formal approval under the correspondence procedure in rule M29, which under Rule 76 can be conducted by email.
  4. It should also be remembered that the Standing Committee of the PCC may transact the PCC’s business between meetings, subject to the statutory limitations and any directions of the PCC. See CRRs Model Rule M31. The comments above relating to virtual meetings apply similarly to the Standing Committee.
  5. These are, of course, the provisions for formal meetings and business. There is nothing to prevent email and telephone interaction between members of the PCC to give informal consideration to matters. It may be possible to deal with many straightforward and uncontroversial matters in this way. However, formal decisions would need to await a properly constituted meeting of the PCC or, as appropriate, the Standing Committee.
  6. PCCs required to submit accounts and an annual return to the Charity Commission should note that the Commission’s current advice is that the charity should contact the Commission if it believes that it will need an extension to the (10 month) deadline for filing the annual return. Given the number of charities likely to be affected, it may be helpful for a member of the PCC to check the Charity Commission website from time to time, in order to check for any further guidance.

Financial guidance for churches

 

 


We are continuing to work on answers to additional FAQs.

Coronavirus advice from:

Chelmsford Diocese

Church of England


For more information please contact The Diocese Communications team
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