COVID-19 ROUTE MAP: STEP 4

Since March 2020, when the Covid emergency began, we have, as a parish, been constantly aware of the guidance issued both by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and by our own Bishop, Richard. We have done our very best throughout to follow both the law and the guidelines issued so that coming to St Dunstan’s would be as safe as possible for everyone.

Late on 15th July we received updated guidance and recommendations from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, as well as a letter from Bishop Richard recommending those guidelines to us. If you would like to read the full guidelines they can be found by clicking here.

Having read the guidelines and the bishop’s letter, we have agreed the following:

The Environment

Whilst there is now no legislation on social distancing in England, the Bishops Conference Guidelines, reinforced by our Bishop, Richard, have highlighted the following measures:

  • Sanitising hands on entering churches and before liturgies

  • Ensuring the continued use of face masks

  • Ventilating buildings well

  • Maintaining a good standard of cleaning

  • We will continue to ask those entering the Church to use the NHS QR code or sign in. (“for as long as the NHS Test, Track and Trace system is in operation”).

  • For now, we will continue to leave open the folding screens into the Liturgy Rooms and into the Narthex. This will help to maintain good ventilation as recommended.

  • We will continue to clean regularly where there is a quick turnover between services, although the risk from touch “is significantly lower than that from aerosol or droplet spread”.

  • Holy Water will not be replaced in the font yet.

  • Red cords and labels on benches have been removed in most of the church

  • One area of the church has been left as it is (the section by the Reconciliation Room) for those who feel particularly vulnerable/anxious.

During The Celebration of Mass

  • Altar servers will return very soon.

  • Congregational singing is now permitted and will be phased in gently as part of worship over the summer period. Face coverings should be worn, even when singing, until infection levels reduce.

  • The Sign of Peace will remain suspended.

  • We are asking the congregation to continue to come forward for Holy Communion in single file and reasonably distanced, as we have been doing. Stewards will continue to facilitate this.

  • Holy Communion will continue to be under one kind and ministers will continue to sanitise their hands beforehand and wear a face mask whilst distributing.

Other Points

  • If it is appropriate and depending on what happens with Covid infections we will aim to reintroduce Children’s Liturgy, Toddlers’ Prayers and ‘coffee’ after Mass in September (these of course will require the folding screens into the Liturgy Rooms to be closed)

  • Taking Holy Communion to the sick is now permitted. Guidance is available.

“Although any measures adopted locally will not have the ‘rule of law,’ there is a strong emphasis on common sense and risk averse activities to continue to mitigate against the transmission of the virus which is still prevalent in society. …  Places of worship should always consider the prevailing local conditions for the virus.”

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales