This page contains detailed guidance to support parishes through the coronavirus pandemic.
This log lists the most recent changes to this page so you can see what has been added or updated recently.
30 November - Update to Church of England guidance document to reflect Government response to the Omicron variant
29 November - Statement from the Church of England in response to the Omicron variant.
2 November - Page tidied up but no substantial information changed or added.
1 September - Church of England guidance document updated with new introduction and situation brief to reflect changes to the Covid-19 situation over the summer
19 July 2021 - Guidance for Step 3 removed from web page and additional Government guidance added
16 July 2021 - Church of England guidance for Step 4 of the Government Roadmap published in News
Statement from the Church of England on the Omicron Variant of COVID-19
The Chair of the Church of England Recovery Group and Bishop of London, the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullalley has issued a statement on behalf of the Church of England about the emergence of the Omicron Variant of Covid-19.
The statement reads as follows:
“The emergence of the omicron variant of Covid-19 is, understandably, a concern for all of us. We are grateful to the scientists around the world who have identified this strain so quickly and are working hard to learn more about it. As yet, little is known about its potential impact and we must exercise patience as we wait for further information.
“As we do so, there are important steps we should take now to protect ourselves and each another. The Government has outlined the return of compulsory face coverings in shops and on public transport in England and we should also continue to take other public health precautions that, by now, are very familiar, such as regular hand-washing, observing physical distancing and ensuring good ventilation indoors.
“If you are eligible, please also have your booster jab as soon as it is available. Meanwhile we are awaiting any new Government regulations and guidance and will update our advice for churches accordingly.”
Email to church leaders about Step 4 of the Government Roadmap
The Church of England first published guidance for Step 4 of the Government Roadmap on 16 July. Step 4 remains in place today and the guidance can be read here. This guidance was most recently updated on 1 September with a new introduction and situation brief.
The Diocesan Communications Group shared the guidance with clergy, church wardens, lay ministers, lay chairs and members of the diocesan synod when it was first published in the following email:
The Church of England has today published guidance for churches relating to step 4 of the Government’s Roadmap.
The guidance reflects a move away from legal restrictions and focuses on equipping churches with information to make the best decision for their own context; enabling us to go further in opening our church buildings for worship and other activities while safely managing risks.
We understand that many will feel anxious about taking difficult decisions that could impact on people’s safety, whilst at the same time wanting to reintroduce many of the precious and important elements of our church life that we have missed so much over the last eighteen months.
As we undertake risk assessments in our churches it is important that we remember five things:
- There is no rush or requirement to change our practices immediately. Church leaders will need time to work through concerns and ensure that they are taking the right decisions at the right time for their context.
- While many of us are understandably eager to lift restrictions, it’s important that we consider the implications for those who are vulnerable and anxious; for their safety and because they may feel unable to continue participating in worship or church activity where restrictions are lifted too quickly. In particular we encourage you to follow the Government’s guidance that encourages the wearing of face masks in crowded and enclosed settings and encourages appropriate social distancing.
- Church leaders should not feel under pressure to lift restrictions or change practices where they don’t think it is safe to do so or indeed where they feel it will undermine the church’s mission as an open, welcoming and caring environment for all in our community, especially the most vulnerable.
- Clergy and church leaders who are clinically vulnerable should not do anything that puts their own health at risk.
- Government data suggests there are likely to be considerable spikes in Covid cases in the coming weeks and months. Churches may decide that they need to change their own practices again if their local area is particularly affected.
Finally we recognise that whilst some will welcome the move away from rules and restrictions to more autonomous decision making, others will find it challenging and difficult. As is always the case when new guidance is published, there will be questions and uncertainties about its application. We will remain in touch over the coming weeks to provide further clarity where general issues are identified. If you have questions relating to your own situation, please speak with your Area Dean in the first instance who will then speak with your Archdeacon where necessary. As we approach the summer holidays, people will be on leave at some stages. If you are unable to speak with your Area Dean or Archdeacon, please contact one of your neighbouring Archdeacons for advice. You can find their contact details here.
Yours in Christ
The Diocesan Communications Group
Church of England guidance:
- Opening and managing churches during Step 4 - guidance document, This is the main guidance document for Step 4 covering a wide range of activities. It was updated on 30 November 2021.
- Template risk assessment for church buildings
- Test and Trace guidance document
- Keeping church buildings clean
The Church of England Coronavirus Guidance web page also contains guidance on:
- Remembrance Sunday
- Vaccines and vaccine passports
- Pastoral visits to care homes
- Accessing Covid-19 tests
- Copyright for live streaming worship
- Mental health support
- PCCs and APCMs
The following Government guidance has been updated for Step 4: