Coronavirus Advice- 14th March 2020

The Government has published a coronavirus action plan. 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.

Our advice reflects appropriate Public Health advice and our guidance will be kept under review.

Advice for Churches

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. 

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.

The current list of countries is available to view here.

If you are displaying any symptoms of Coronavirus you should stay at home. 

You should stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
For more information on what to do if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 Holy Communion and The Peace

In light of the continued increase of COVID-19 case in the UK, it is now recommended to suspend the administration of the chalice during communion as well as contact during the sharing of the peace.

We therefore advise:

  • offer Communion in only one kind to all communicants i.e. the consecrated bread, with the minister alone taking the wine;
  • suspend handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace;
  • minimalise physical contact within the congregation.

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

In addition, ministers presiding at the Lord’s Supper, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitiser. (Hand sanitiser may be available here.)

Intinction (dipping of the bread into the wine) 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.

Pastoral Practices

If you are self-isolating, please let your church know, so that they are aware and can look after you.

If a person you are in contact with requires support during a period of quarantine this can be done in several ways. Home visits should be avoided, and you should consider alternative methods of support, such as telephone or video call.

If a person is admitted to hospital with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 visiting will be restricted. In this instance you are advised to contact the Lead Chaplain who will liaise with the Infection Control Team on your behalf.

General Infection Prevention Precautions

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.

To view the NHS guidance, click here.