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Coronavirus: Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings

GuidanceOnRe-openingBaptistChuThe government has announced that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services, in addition to being open for private prayer which has been permitted since 13 June 2020.  We have written a new guidance leaflet which is intended to help churches work through the practicalities of re-opening.  Please note that whilst much of this leaflet is generally applicable it has been written primarily with a view to re-opening churches for worship services.  Your key legal requirement prior to re-opening is to carry out a risk assessment (we have provided a template for this) and then implement any control measures identified. 

Churches in England should refer to government guidelines and ensure that they operate within these as a minimum.   These should be regularly reviewed as they are updated frequently.  Please note that reference to 'Venue Managers' in the Government guidance should be interpreted by Baptist churches as being the church charity trustees, who carry the legal responsibility for the general control and management of the administration of the church.

For churches in Wales the regulations are different

These guidance notes are intended to help Baptist Church trustees/leaders/deacons to work through the issues involved in practicalities of re-opening their buildings and interpreting the guidance in a Baptist context.  These notes are not a replacement for the Government guidance and should be read in conjunction with that guidance.  If you identify any conflict between this document and the government guidance, the government guidance prevails. 

Please click here to download Word version of the Appendices to the Guidance on re-opening church buildings document.

Guidance on Church Worship
Please also see the new Guidance on Church Worship from our Ministries Team.
Version 1: 30 June 2020 (9am)

Version 1.1: 30 June 2020 (12:45pm) - Link added to Risk Assessment template

Version 1.2: 30 June 2020 (10:45pm) - Link added to Government Guidance on Multi-Use Community facilities

Version 1.3: 1 July 2020 (10:45am) - Link to Risk Assessment templates updated

Version 1.4: 2 July 2020 (3:15pm) - Added Appendix 6 – Contractor Checklist and paragraph about management of contractors into section 2. Added reference to collection of posters. Made clear that face coverings are not required under government guidance where 2m distancing is possible, but still recommended.

Version 1.5: 9 July 2020 (4:15pm) - Clarified wording on waste in Section 2. Added paragraph on transport in section 4.  Added comment on queuing systems at entrances in section 4.  Added paragraphs on Church Members’ Meetings and Prayer Meetings and Bible Studies in section 5.  Updated paragraph on children’s’ activities in section 5 to refer to new government and Baptists Together guidance.  Updated paragraph on social interactions in section 5.  Added additional detail to section on use of church for other activities.  Reworded of reoccupation checklist item about pest control.

Version 1.6: 16 July (1:45pm) - Note on local regulations on first page.  Added text around interpreting scoring of risks in Introduction section.  Added text around how this fits with the mission of the church in the Introduction section.  Clarification in section 2 paragraph on building controls and ventilation that guidance is referring to fresh air ventilation.  Updated text on PPE in section 3 relating to young children and face coverings and face coverings being mandatory in shops from 24 July.  New paragraph on use of outside spaces in section 3.  Updated text on recording details of attendees to incorporate ICO guidance in section 4.  Updated wording on limiting social interactions in section 5.  New paragraphs on use of the premises for filming services for broadcast and streaming of services in section 5.Updated wording on other uses of the premises, including external organisations hiring premises in section 6. 

Version 1.7: 20 July (12:45pm) - Updated paragraph on use of outdoor spaces in section 3 to reflect clarified guidance on gatherings off church premises.   

Version 1.8: 23 July (2:30pm) - New paragraph in section 4, on recording where people sit to mitigate against the entire congregation being asked to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace

Version 1.9: 27 July (5:15pm) - Updated to reflect the guidance issued by the Welsh Government on 20/07/20.  Updated Section 3 to reflect that face coverings should be worn in a place of worship in England even if 2m social distancing can be maintained.

Version 1.10: 31 July (5:00pm) - Updated Section 3 to reflect that in England wearing face coverings in a place of worship will be mandatory from 8 August.

Version 1.11: 3 August (11:30am) - Update in Section 3 with new paragraph regarding face coverings and leading services in England. Additional sentence clarifying that face shields / visors do not meet the requirement to wear a face covering.

Version 1.12: 3 August (4:45pm) - Update to section 3 to reflect clarified guidance on use of face coverings in weddings.

Version 1.13: 4 August (12:30pm) - Update section 3 adding paragraph clarifying that church trustees should determine the appropriate face covering for church staff to wear when church service is taking place in the building.

Version 1.14: 6 August (10:30am) - Temporary note added that we are anticipating clarification of the requirements for use of face coverings by those leading a service and the bride and groom in a marriage ceremony.

Version 1.15: 11 August (11:15am) -  Update Section 3 to reflect updated guidance regarding the use of face coverings.  Updates to Sections 5 and 6 regarding the process to follow should a member of your congregation or visitor to your church test positive for the virus. Addition of Appendix 7: Template Press Release regarding Track and Trace.

Version 1.16: 13 August (4:10pm) - Minor wording updates throughout for clarification and elimination of typographical errors. Integration of Welsh guidance into section 3, 4 and 5 in the document Updated section 3 to reflect Shielding being paused in England. Updated section 5 to give more detail on what to do in the event of a visitor to the church premises subsequently testing positive or developing symptoms. 

Version 1.17: 20 August (3:30pm) - Updated section 5 and other areas that referred to this section to reflect new rules on music groups leading worship. Revised formatting of hyperlinks to be consistent throughout the document. 

Version 1.18: 27 August (4:25pm) - Updated paragraphs on cleaning in section 2 to reflect the latest government guidance.  Updated paragraph on Weddings, Funerals and Baptisms in section 5 to reflect that these are all now permitted within the restrictions.Updated paragraph on 'Ensuring the activity can be conducted safely' in Section 6 to make clear the duties of Church Trustees as venue managers.  Also Added links to guidance on food-related activities and community centres in this section.

Version 1.19: 3 September (4:10pm) - Minor updates to cleaning guidance in section 2 and Appendix 3 to make clear that Appendix 3 only applies to cases where coronavirus contamination is suspected.

Version 1.20: 10 September (4pm) - Updated Section 3 to reflect the new guidance on social distancing that applies from 14 September and updates on use of outdoor spaces. Updated Section 4 to reflect the new legal force around collection of data for Track and Trace from 18 September.

Version 1.21: 17 September (4:20pm) - Updated links on cover page to local lockdown restrictions in England and Wales.  Updated section 3 to reflect the lack of clarity over larger gatherings in public outdoor spaces.  Updated section 4 to reflect updated requirements for collecting data and displaying a QR code for checking on the NHS Test and Trace app.Updated text in Section 6 relating to reflect revised guidance for community buildings.

Version 1.22: 18 September (7pm) - Updated section 3 text on use of outside spaces to reflect clarifications received from government.Updated section 5 to reflect explicit limitation to 6 singers and change to guidance on blown instruments.

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The Government has recently updated their advice regarding coronavirus.
Guidance for churches following the Government announcement that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services
The UK Government published guidance on Protective Measures for Out-of-School Settings on 1 July.
Guidance from our Legal Team on various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown
The government has announced that from 4 July 2020, Places of Worship in England will be permitted to open again for services, in addition to being open for private prayer
Your key legal requirement prior to re-opening is to carry out a risk assessment
    Posted: 18/05/2020
    Posted: 15/05/2020
    Posted: 20/03/2020