This afternoon, the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister announced the end of nearly all restrictions relating to coronavirus from the 19th July. I anticipate that there may well be some further guidance either from the government or the Church of England. This email is subject to that guidance being published, but sets out our next steps.
Overall, we will be taking a gradual approach over the summer to lifting our own restrictions, however there are a few areas that we will be looking at from the 19th July.
Face coverings and social distancing
The legal requirements to wear face coverings indoors and to maintain a 1m distance will cease on the 19th July, and these requirements will no longer be in force in church buildings. There will be no obligation for you to wear a face covering in church services, and you will be able to sit in groups of any size.
It may be, however, that you would prefer to keep wearing a face covering, and you would be very welcome to do so. Similarly, there is no requirement for you to sit in larger groups, if you would rather not.
When considering where to sit, please remember that there may be those who would prefer to maintain social distancing. The chairs at the back of St Andrew will be in 'social distance' configuration for the time being.
From 19th July, we will be able to sing in church. We will continue with our slightly shorter services in July and August, with fewer songs and hymns than before COVID restrictions were imposed. There is no obligation for you to sing as part of the services.
Wine at Holy Communion
With the removal of restrictions we should also be able to distribute both bread and wine as part of Holy Communion. Wine will be shared through the common cup. You may decide that you are not yet ready to receive both bread and wine, please do continue to take only the bread. Any changes to the organisation of Holy Communion will be made clear beforehand.
As soon as we are able to, we will be re-introducing refreshments after the 10:30 service. These will take place in the safest way that we are able to do.
In all of the changes, I hope that we are able to show generosity and understanding towards those who want to move more quickly or slowly in the steps that we take - our buildings should be places where all can be present.