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

Coronavirus Guidance and FAQs

This page highlights the latest government and Church of England guidance and addresses some of the questions we have been asked by parishes across the diocese. We will continue to update the page as guidance changes and in response to your questions.

Please keep checking for updates.

Log of recent updates to this page

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

30 October Link to updated Government guidance on attendance of people at funerals who are self isolating. Weddnigs, Funerals Confirmations and Ordinations section

19 October Updated Church of England document on Public Worship, in the Public Worship section (changes reflect introduction of the three tier system)

19 October Updated Church of England documents on baptlsims, funerals, confirmations and ordinations in the Weddings, Funerals, Confirmations and Ordinations section. 

16 October Clarification on the number of people who can attend a wedding in the News section and the Weddings, Funerals, Confirmations and Ordinations section.

16 October Link to new guidance for local authorities about Remembrance in the Public Worship section.

15 October Updated guidance relating to the 3 tiers system in General Guidance Documents 

15 October Updated guidance relating to weddings in Weddings, Funerals, Confirmation and Ordinations

15 October Update in news section on London and the Essex County Council Area entering Tier 2 from Saturday 17 October

Section menu

1) News and General Guidance Updates  

19 October - Church of England guidance documents updated

The Church of England have updated their guidance on public worship, baptisms, confirmations and ordinations. This follows the introduction of the three tier system and other changes to guidance in recent days.


16 October - Clarification on the numbers permitted to attend weddings

The Church of England have today published clarification on their website regarding the numbers of people who can attend a wedding. The guidance reads as follows:

"Government regulations state that weddings must have no more than 15 people. The Government guidance says that “anyone working is not included as part of the limit on those attending”. The guidance also states: “It is strongly advised that only essential aspects of the ceremonies take place at this time”.

We understand that working means those whose presence is reasonably necessary for the event to take place."


15 October -  London and Essex County Council area to be placed under Tier 2 Restrictions from Saturday 17 October

The Government has announced that London and the Essex County Council area are to be placed into Tier 2 (high level) restrictions from Saturday 17 October. The new restrictions will not apply to the Southend and Thurrock Council areas at this stage although this could clearly change in the near future. At present, Thurrock and Southend will remain in  Tier 1 (medium).

The Government has published guidance on the specific restrictions for Tier 2 areas which can be read here.

The Church of England has now published a guidance document covering a range of services and activities for churches covered by each of the three tiers.

The Church of England guidance document for clergy taking weddings has also been updated with reference to the three tiers.


2 Church Activity

General guidance documents and risk assessment template

This section sign posts the key general guidance documents from the Church of England and the Government.

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.

Face Coverings (updated 10/08)

On 31 July the Prime Minister announced that face coverings will be mandatory in places of worship from 8 August. Subsequent government guidance includes exemptions for those leading services and brides and grooms in certain circumstance. For details. please read the full  Church of England Guidance on Face Coverings

NHS Test and Trace (updated 25/09 - Test and Trace app now live)

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.

Opening of churches for public worship (updated 19/10)

Government guidance:

Church of England guidance:

Remembrance Sunday (updated 16/10 to include a link to Government guidance for local authorities)

Services both within places of worship and outdoors are possible. If the service is to take place within a church, please follow the Church of England guidelines on public worship. If there is an outdoor element to the service, or the service is taking place wholly outdoors at a public memorial please see the Government’s guidance for Local Authorities on Remembrance Sunday and the section on outdoor worship in the Government’s Places of Worship guidance. At this time, unfortunately, congregational singing is not possible.

Please be aware there are likely to be many people unable to attend these services physically who would like participate or be offered the chance to remember at home, so additional resources online and in paper format are encouraged.

Read more about Remembering and Remembrance in 2020.

Resources are available from the Church of England ‘Marking our Communities’ materials:

Prayers of lament, thanksgiving and restoration

Remembering and Memorials

And from the Church Support Hub.


Opening the Doors

The Church of England have published new  resources to help churches promote and facilitate a return to prayer and worship in their church buildings when the time is right to do so. Included are liturgical resources, posters, invitations and a series of webinars. You can access the Opening the Doors resources here.

Holy Communion (updated 17/08)

Individual private prayer (updated 10/08)

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



Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Confirmation, Ordination (updated 19/10 with advice relating to three tiers and other new Government guidance)

Church of England guidance documents on life cycle events 

Clarification on the numbers of people allowed to attend a church wedding:

On 16/10 The Church of England published clarification on their website regarding the numbers of people who can attend a wedding. The guidance reads as follows:

"Government regulations state that weddings must have no more than 15 people. The Government guidance says that “anyone working is not included as part of the limit on those attending”. The guidance also states: “It is strongly advised that only essential aspects of the ceremonies take place at this time”.

We understand that working means those whose presence is reasonably necessary for the event to take place."

Updated Government guidance on attendance at funerals

The Government have updated their guidance relating to people attending funerals when they are symptomatic and/or are required to self isolate. The guidance can be read here.



Communtiy Activity and Church Halls (Updated 11/09 to reflect the introduction of the 'Rule of Six'

Following the Government's announcement that social gatherings are to be limited to six people, the Governmnent have updated their own guidance on the safe use of Community Faciltiies (such as halls). This can be read here.

The Government have also updated their guidance for providers of grass roots sport and gymn leisure facitlites. This can be read here.





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.



Children and Young People (Updated 02/10)

Following the Government's announcement that social gatherings are to be restricted to 6 people in England, the Government has updated it's guidance on 'meeting with other people' which includes specific reference to youth groups and can be read here

Sunday schools, clubs and youth groups

The Church of England has published an FAQ on children and young people's activtiy. The FAQ states that children’s activities being organised by the place of worship alongside or within a service or at other times during the week should follow principles in the general guidance from the Department for Education on Out of School Settings.

In outline, these recommend that, to reduce the risk of transmission, children and young people who attend should be kept in small, consistent groups, and of no more than fifteen children and at least one staff member. Children should be assigned to a particular class or group and should then stay in those consistent groups for future sessions and avoid mixing with other groups in your setting.

If possible, those attending should practise physical distancing in line with the government’s current guidance. As the risk of transmission is considerably lower outdoors, providers who normally run sessions indoors should consider whether they are able to do so safely outside on their premises.

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. This was updated on 02/10 to reflect recent changes to government restrictions.

Childcare Settings in church buildings

The Government gave the go ahead for childcare providers on the Early Years Register, who usually use church buildings, to open their settings from 1 June provided that appropriate risk assessments and Covid-19 mitigations are undertaken.  Please see the Department for Education website for full guidance.


Schools visiting and using church buildings

Advice from the Church of England states that  government guidance does not prohibit school groups from coming into church, providing any use is in line with Government guidance both for safe operation of schools and use of places of worship.

Providing pastoral support

Organ playing and bell ringing (advice from the Church of England) (Updated 25/08)


The organ can be played, including during public worship.


Church bells can now be rung for services or at other times with the permission of the incumbent.provided that guidance agreed between the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and the Church of England is followed. The advice is here. Please ensure your ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.

Singing and choirs (Updated 22/09)

Singing and music is only permitted for small groups of professional and non-professional performers in a physically distanced and safe way. Congregations are not permitted to sing.

The latest update to the introduction of the Government’s Performing Arts guidance states that:

“…from 14 September non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.”

We understand that there is an ongoing discussion between Government departments on how the new rules will impact amateur choirs in places of worship and the guidance relating to places of worship will be updated as soon as possible.

Please see Church of England guidance on public worship for more information.

Please also see guidance from the RSCM on the safe resumption of choral singing.

Protecting those at additional risk from Covid-19 (30/07)

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should be advised not to consider employment or volunteering outside their homes. Please see the Church of England guidance document for details. This document was updated on 30 July to bring it into line with government guidance.

Safeguarding (08/07)

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 (updated 08/07)

The following guidance is from the Church of England


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.





3) Building maintenance and management


Heating and ventilation (new section 02/10)

Cleaning (new section 08/07)

Construction work (new section 08/07)

Clocks and organ maintenance (new section 08/07)

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.

Insurance (30/03)



4) Governance and finance


Annual Meetings, Elections of Church Wardens, Synod Reps and PCC members (updated 15/09 with new guidance which includes guidance on electronic meetings.)

If you have already had your Annual Meetings….

  1. The churchwardens chosen in 2019 remain in office until those chosen in 2020 are admitted unless the archdeacons of bishops allow otherwise.  Incumbents will be able to admit new churchwardens only when safe and absolutely necessary, and following consultation with their archdeacon. The archdeacons will hold a service of celebration for new churchwardens at a future date.
  2. Deanery Synod representatives elected in 2017 (or subsequently to fill a casual vacancy) continue in post until 30th November 2020. They will, therefore, comprise the electorate for the House of Laity of the General Synod, when those elections go ahead. 
  3. PCC members will already have been appointed at your APCM.

If you haven’t yet had your Annual Meetings….

  1. Don’t panic!  The deadline for Annual Meetings (Annual Meeting of Parishioners and APCM) has been extended until 31st October 2020.
  2. Churchwardens elected in 2019 continue to hold office until 31st January 2021 unless their successors are admitted to office before that. (See 1. above). This extension applies also to churchwardens who were already in their sixth year of office.
  3. Deanery Synod representatives elected in 2017 (or subsequently to fill a casual vacancy) continue in post until 30th November 2020. They will, therefore, comprise the electorate for the House of Laity of the General Synod, when those elections go ahead
  4. PCC members will remain in post until the end of the next APCM, whenever that takes place.  This extension applies also to any who were due to step down from office in 2020.

Holding APCMs by electronic means

On 15 September, a further Bishop's instrument was issued and sent to clergy, churchwardens and PCC Secretaries. Amongst other things, this instrument authorises APCMs and annual Meetings of Parishioners to be held by electronic means. Please read a detailed guidance note about what this means here. 

Note:     Details regarding elections for the General Synod will be circulated in due course.

PCC decision making and online meetings (15/04)

  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 (08/07)



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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