Updated Tuesday 30th June
There is no anticipation or expectation that all corps in England will reopen for worship this coming Sunday (5 July 2020). Corps can only reopen when a risk assessment has been completed in consultation with local leaders and approved by the divisional leaders or the Divisional Mission Enablers.
The number of people who can attend worship will be determined by the risk assessment.
Risk assessments must be completed thoroughly and implemented before DHQ can give permission for worship to recommence. The requirement for a comprehensive risk assessment is a legal requirement. The guidance states: ‘Failure to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment could constitute a breach of Health & Safety legislation, as could having a risk assessment with insufficient measures set out. Places of worship are encouraged to make their risk assessments available online where possible.’
To help with the risk assessment process, THQ will be producing guidance and risk assessments. These will be available later this week and will also be on the OurHub Signposts tool. Divisional leaders are being encouraged to roll out the reopening gradually so we can learn lessons in these unusual times. The government guidance does not include direction on some factors that could increase the spread of the virus. For example, people should not sit within 2 metres of the front of the balcony in a Salvation Army hall. There is much to consider before we reopen for worship and the priority must be to keep our people safe. Do not rush the preparations despite the pressure from some people who long to ‘return to normal’. The virus has not gone away so we must proceed with great care.
The government guidance is that people over 70 ‘are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household’. The territorial leadership appreciates that many faithful and passionate Salvationists are over 70 and will be keen to get back to worship. However, we strongly support the Government’s advice. We hope this will be revised as soon as possible. Similar restrictions are also placed on people who are extremely clinically vulnerable.
Singing as well as playing brass instruments is not permitted in indoor Salvation Army meetings in the territory until further notice. This applies to individuals, groups and congregations.
Meetings can be held in corps parking areas or in outdoor spaces owned by The Salvation Army. If there is a meeting in the car park or garden around the hall all the measures outlined in the government guidance must still be followed. Worship in England cannot be held in public areas such as parks or gardens. It can only be held on land owned by a place of worship.
Groups of up to six musicians can play or sing outdoors but a distance of at least 2 metresbetween musicians must be observed.
Shared areas or equipment for children should be closed or put away.
The guidance includes advice on cleaning and keeping each other safe that must be followed. Some hall cleaners are on the furlough scheme. No employee can return to work without the approval of the Territorial Retention Group.
Other activities previously held in corps properties cannot restart at this time. Food distribution that has been done during the pandemic can continue.
We have received the following statement from THQ:
‘The advice on caring for people with or at risk of becoming infected with the virus has changed in recent days.As a result and with deep regret, public meetings will stop with immediate effect.
There will therefore be no Sunday meetings until further notice.
- There will be no Band or Songster practice until further notice
- The Oasis Cafe will be closed until further notice.
- Friends Together, Parents & Tots & Explorers will be closed until further notice.
- Ladies Retreat has also been cancelled.
*If you have any concerns regarding the current situation please ring 01394 284610 and John Ellitson will get back to you as soon as practicable.*
*DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PERIOD THE OFFICE WILL BE OPEN MON – FRI 10.00am – 1.00pm FOR FOOD PARCELS & ENQUIRIES*