COVID 19 Code of Practice

Corporate worship in the light of Tier 4 regulations

Since 26 December 2020 West Oxfordshire has come under Tier 4 regulations.

With regard to corporate worship, the regulations state:

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

As such, we are delighted that we may continue to meet together on Sunday mornings for worship (unlike in the original lockdown period). However, as responsible citizens and as those wishing to be a good witness to Christ and to love our neighbour, we need to ensure we comply with these tightened regulations.

So please can I ask you to read the following updated code of conduct and ensure you comply with it when we gather together?

Arrival, departure and social interaction (new)

Under Tier 4 regulations, no ‘mingling’ with anyone outside your household or support bubble is permitted. As such

  • Please do not arrive early and expect to be able to chat to others while waiting for the meeting to begin. This is not permitted in the current circumstances.
  • Please therefore aim to arrive between 9.55 and 10.00am (but punctually!), unless you are involved in set-up, duties or leading in any way, in which case you may, of course, arrive as early as needed to be prepared.
  • Likewise, at the end of the meeting, please
    • Leave the hall immediately, without lingering to chat to others (again – unless you need to clear away / take down PA etc)
    • Importantly, please do not mill around outside chatting. Under Tier 4, only one to one mixing outside is permitted. It will not be a good witness to the village if we are seen violating the regulations after meeting on a Sunday, by staying around outside the Centre, chatting after the meeting.

Venue and meeting rules (unchanged)

  • Chairs will be set out in a manner consistent with social distancing e.g. 1-2 metres apart (except for individual households). As chairs can be moved manually, please ensure your own seating arrangements comply with this.
  • Use of face masks compulsory at all times in the building, except for meeting leaders.
  • Hand sanitiser will be placed in the entrance foyer and everyone is asked to use it on arrival.
  • Singing is not permitted, other than by worship-leaders from the front of the room.
  • Spoken responses and contributions are permitted in the congregation, but masks may not be removed, unless speaking from the front.
  • Recorded music or ‘live’ piano playing may be used. Worship leader(s) may sing.
  • Kitchen facilities will not be utilized.
  • Only one toilet will be in use. Anti-bacterial wipes to be placed in toilet and used to wipe surfaces after use.
  • Contact with door handles etc will be kept to a minimum by keeping the main entrance door and the doors to the main hall open (and monitored) at entry and departure time.
  • Ventilation will be maximized by keeping front doors and door to main hall open, along with at least two windows in the main hall.

Children’s activities (new)

In further government guidance, the following additional points are made

  • Young children should be supervised by the parent or guardian outside of organised children’s activities.
    • In view of this, please keep your children with you during the meeting and they should not mingle with children from other families.
  • In Tier 4, these activities must only take place where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training.
    • This would seem to mean that organised ‘Sunday school’ types of activity groups are not currently permitted.
  • Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed and/or put out of use.
    • The sofas and any shared church toys etc should not currently be used.

As part of our Sunday meetings, we plan each week to include a short child-friendly talk/video/activity, led from the front, which will take place before the main talk. A simple colouring sheet / puzzle type of activity may be made available for children during the ‘adults’ talk, but families will need to bring their own crayons etc.

Other meetings (new)

Government regulations also state explicitly

  • In Tier 4 areas, prayer or study groups must not take place in person.

Consequently, all mid-week meetings will for the time being continue to take place online by Zoom.