Diocese of Down and Connor COVID-19 Guidance – 26 October 2021


Covid-Safe measures

for all Church based liturgies/activities


Social Distancing Seating should be arranged to allow for a minimum of one metre social distancing between members ofdifferent households. Similarly, in the sanctuary, participants in the Liturgy should maintain a one metresocial distance whenever possible. Each Parish should, as part of reviewing its risk assessment, take carefulconsideration of the design and layout of their church building. Face Coverings The wearing of face coverings while entering, leaving and moving around a church is mandatory. TheDiocese strongly recommends that face coverings be worn throughout liturgical celebrations, even whenseated. If there is congregational singing, face coverings must be worn, as singing carries a greater risk ofaerosol transmission. Those ministering in the sanctuary should wear face covering except when leadingprayers, reading, preaching or addressing the congregation. Hand Sanitizers Suitable hand sanitizers should continue to be provided at the entrances to Churches and other parishbuildings. Ventilation Good ventilation remains a key aspect of preventing transmission wherever people gather. If a person whohas COVID-19 is present in a poorly ventilated space, the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasingthe risk of spreading COVID-19. The more fresh air that moves through a space, the quicker any airbornevirus will be removed. Churches should be well ventilated during and after any gathering, by openingwindows and doors and using any mechanical ventilation system available (you should avoid usingmechanical systems that simply recirculate air.) Movement around the Church Parishes should retain any guidance/direction on movement around the Church that is designed to allow forsocial distancing. Cleaning routines Parishes should maintain the current regime of cleaning between liturgical services. Holy Water Fonts, missalettes, newsletters etc. For the time being, holy water fonts should remain empty. Missalettes and newsletters/ bulletins should not beused unless they are single use and are retained by the user or disposed of after use. Risk Assessments It is advisable that parishes refresh their risk assessments, particularly if any change is made to socialdistancing arrangements in churches.

The Celebration of Mass (IncludingWeddings and Funerals) Parishes should continue to observe the principle of simplicity in the Liturgy for the time being, ensuring adignified celebration, while at the same time ensuring that the length of the celebration is not unnecessarilyprolonged. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays remains suspended. Liturgical Ministries Deacons should recommence their ministry at the Altar, being careful to maintain social distancing wherepossible, and through the use of face coverings when in close proximity to others. Readers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may recommence their ministry where this hasnot already happened. Where the size of the sanctuary permits, altar servers may also be reintroduced. Servers should be trained to observe social distancing, and briefed on good hand hygiene etc. They should also be encouraged to use a face covering, particularly when near others. Alternative arrangements for vesting may be required where asacristy space is too small to allow for distancing of at least one metre. Choirs and liturgical music groups may recommence their ministry, while carefully noting and observingthe following advice: · The number of choir/group members must be included in the safe maximum number for the church asdetermined in the risk assessment. · if using face coverings, choirs and musicians must observe the 1 metre distancing guidance, if facecoverings are not worn then a distance of 2 metres must be observed. This distancing applies toother members of the choir, the director and other members of the congregation. It is also requiredduring rehearsals. · Choirs should sing at a reduced volume, using amplification if available. · Ensure good ventilation whenever singing is part of the liturgy. · In keeping with the principle of a simple liturgy, choirs should choose a repertoire that will notunnecessarily prolong the liturgy. Adaptations to the Liturgy

· The entrance and recessional processions should be simple, confined to the celebrant, deacon andservers.

· Concelebration should be avoided except where pastoral needs suggest otherwise.

· There should be no offertory procession.

· The sign of peace remains suspended.

· Concelebrants and deacons should receive the precious blood from separate chalices or, ifnecessary, by intinction.

· Those administering Holy Communion should continue to sanitize their hands before and after thedistribution, and to wear face coverings. Communion in the hand should remain the norm. Whereaccommodation is made for those who object to receiving in the hand this should be made at the endof Communion time and hands should be sanitised immediately after each recipient.

Weddings Nuptial Masses should be celebrated in accordance with the general guidance for Mass. The exemptionfrom wearing face coverings applies to the bride and groom only.


Funerals

The Department of Health produces guidance for funeral directors and those involved in the conduct offunerals. The latest version of the advice can be found at:

www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-guidance-surrounding-death (a copy of the latest issue isattached for your convenience.) Clergy should continue to liaise closely with Funeral Directors in the safeconduct of funeral rites.


All rites at the Church should be conducted in accordance with the general principles outline for liturgyabove. When attending a wake house, we recommend that clergy/pastoral workers/Bethany teams arrangewith the family to visit at a quiet time when only family members are present. The practice of offering prayersoutdoors, such as the rite of removal, is to be commended as appropriate for the time being.


Details of the current arrangements at the City of Belfast Crematorium (Roselawn) can be found at:www.belfastcity.gov.uk/Births-Deaths-and-Ceremonies/Cemeteries/COVID-19-(coronavirus)-cemeteries-update


Baptisms

The adaptations to the Baptismal liturgy previously advised should continue to be observed. If multipleBaptisms are occurring at the same ceremony, family and friends should be seated in groups around thechurch. Members of the congregation should be asked to remain in their seats for the duration of theceremony.


Sick-calls and First-Friday Visits

Priests and other ministers should continue to exercise caution when undertaking sick-calls and making visitsto the sick and housebound. All mitigations, such as face coverings, good hand hygiene, minimising person-to person contact and reducing the time spent indoors with others should continue to be observed aspreviously advised.


Non-liturgical pastoral activities and Parish Halls/Centres

As parishes consider face-to-face activities and the increased use of halls and centres by parish and othergroups/users, you are reminded of the following principles: