Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for parishes

The threat posed by COVID-19 has been assessed by the Chief Medical Officer as ‘moderate’. This permits the Government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals remains low.

Current Government advice is that individuals should follow good hygiene practices including: 

  • carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue;
  • washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser gel to kill germs.

Advice has also been issued to travellers who have returned to the UK from a number of countries.

This list has been revised on 25th February and now includes parts of Northern Italy.

Anyone who has returned to the UK from any of these areas in the last 14 days and develops symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu;
  • call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country.

Long-standing government advice has been that ‘In a pandemic, it makes good sense to take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’ COVID-19 has NOT been declared a pandemic.

Churches should already be following best-hygiene practices that include advising parishioners with coughs and sneezes to refrain from handshaking during The Peace and to receive Communion in one kind only.

At present, there is no Government advice that suggests the use of the Common Cup should be suspended.

It is also best practice for churches to have hand-sanitisers available for parishioners to use.

In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitiser.

Intinction is not recommended (even by celebrants or communion-administrators) as this represents an infection transmission route as well as a risk to those with certain allergies.

Best hygiene practice should continue to be observed in all pastoral contacts.

Updated advice from Public Health England on Tuesday 25th February 2020

Whilst in places of worship, there is no need to avoid other worshipers who are well or to change normal faith practices – this includes taking wine from the communal chalice. Public Health England recommends that you should take usual infection prevention precautions including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you feel unwell, stay at home, do not attend work or school.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. Download a poster from NHS England with guidance.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.

 

Brendan McCarthy

This page will be updated to reflect any change in circumstances.

Last updated on Wednesday 26th February 2020.

 

Intinction

The action of dipping the bread in the wine at a Eucharist so that a communicant receives both together.