On Monday 19th July we reach step 4 of the national unlocking plan and we’ll be getting closer to holding ‘normal’ Sunday meetings. Personally I’m excited and raring to go, and at the same time I recognise some of us will be more cautious, especially with rising Covid case numbers.
We want everyone to feel confident to attend, so to help bring reassurance where it’s needed here’s our plan for how things will work. This plan covers things we will stop, things we will start and things we will change. There are also some Covid safety measures listed at the end to help reassure people further. As always this is all subject to change if the guidance changes.
What stops from July 25th
Online kids work will not take place from that day onwards.
You will no longer be required to sit socially distanced from other people, unless you want to.
You will no longer need to book to attend or register on arrival; just turn up.
What starts from July 25th
In person kids work, including creche, restarts that day, with Sunday youth work to commence from September.
You will be free to stand up and sing during the worship … at last!
You will be free to pray for people and to be prayed for as appropriate.
We will create a specific ‘socially distanced’ seating area for people who would like to use it, where face masks will also be worn. This will be situated at the back, near to the car park doors, and you will be able to enter and leave that way to avoid getting close to too many people. For everyone else we recommend using the front doors, as we did before the pandemic.
What changes from July 25th
Instead of one meeting at 10am, we will have two meetings which will be at 9am and 11am. These will each be around one hour in length.
The livestream will operate for the 9am meeting only, and will no longer have a chat feature. This means that for now you can still choose to watch online if you need to.
Children will stay in the meeting with their parents during the worship time, before going out to their groups, giving them a much shorter time in kids work or creche than before the pandemic. We will register your kids on arrival at the meeting so do try to arrive in good time if you can and please use the front doors and not the car park doors for this.
Face masks will no longer be legally required, however government guidance recommends they are worn in crowded indoor areas. With this in mind we encourage you to wear a mask on arrival, on leaving and when moving around the building, such as going to the toilet or collecting your children. We will not be policing this, so our encouragement is that we each seek to be responsible and to care for others where we can, remembering that face masks are mainly worn to protect other people and not ourselves. Once you are seated you will be free to remove your face mask or to continue wearing it as you see fit, except in the socially distanced seating area where masks will be required.
Some Covid safety measures
There are several things we’re doing to help keep people safe:
1. Our heating and cooling system has been set to ‘extract’ mode and is not recycling any air. This means that we will be sitting in a flow of new air, and what we breathe out will be slowly drawn upwards and out of the building – this has been the case since meetings restarted.
2. Our hand sanitisation stations will remain in place and we encourage you to use them.
3. The meetings are shorter than they would be in normal times, reducing your exposure time to others.
4. There will be a longer gap between meetings leading to less crowding.
5. Despite reduced numbers being expected as many people will be away during the summer, we are holding two meetings in order to create as much space as possible and avoid overcrowding.
6. We will not yet be serving refreshments, so bring your own tea, coffee or water – this will avoid crowding around refreshment tables.
7. We encourage you to use the outside areas to socialise, including the car park, the area outside the front, and the areas between the two buildings.
Full steam ahead?
We are hoping this is now full steam ahead on the road to normality but we must bear in mind two things:
- We don’t know if there will be future restrictions put in place if cases rise or new variants emerge, especially as we head into the autumn
- No specific guidance for churches has been issued this time. If that does come out it’s possible we’ll find something that affects our plans; if that happens we will let you know.
It’s been an incredibly difficult time for us all during the pandemic and there have been losses along the way. We’ve also been warned that the pandemic is ‘far from over’.
With all this in mind let’s enjoy this new freedom as much as we can and as responsibly as we can. I’m excited to get back to worshipping God together in person again and I hope to see you all there.