Use of Face-coverings in Churches during COVID 19

Our Rector has been asked to clarify the position over the use of Face Covering during Divine Worship, consequently, we are happy to publish this excerpt from the official Church of England guidance for reference, to offer reassurance and peace of mind for those attending Worship during Lockdown.

Should I wear a face covering in a church building? Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and in a range of indoor venues including places of worship and church halls. While there are exemptions, outlined below, this is a legal requirement.

What is a face covering?
A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. These are different from surgical and other face masks that are part of PPE used in health and social care settings. We do not recommend the use of PPE in church buildings other than for specialist cleaning activities.

Why should we wear face coverings? Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets and perhaps aerosols (which can linger in the air) from coughs, sneezes and speaking. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets and aerosols in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to.

This includes:
• Those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
• These exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating at the wedding.
• These exemptions are made to enable communication, particularly with those who rely on lip-reading, facial expressions or clear sound; they do not exempt clergy and other leaders from wearing face coverings in other situations or during other activities.

There are a range of other reasons for not wearing a face covering, including:
• young children under the age of 11
• not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental
illness or impairment, or disability
• if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
• if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to
• to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
• to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
• to eat or drink, but only if you need to
• to take medication
• if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
• If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
• If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some
may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.

Although you don’t need to prove you’re exempt from wearing a face mask there are cards and badges to help show others why you aren’t wearing a mask, which could provide peace of mind.

Further details can be found here…