We're keeping you up-to-date with everything you need to know about COVID-19 and its impact on the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

Updates

  • Posted on this page. We're also posting regularly on Twitter and Facebook.
  • The Bishop's Conference of Scotland COVID-19 parish resources can be accessed on its website bcos.org.uk.

Parish Resources

  • Parish posters Please click here to view and download a range of Covid-19 posters for printing (please consult your parish priest).
  • Eventbrite A guide to using the free online event management/ticketing system is here.
  • Back to Mass Guidance on returning to Mass issued by the Bishops' Conference. Click here

Prayer Resources

  • Sunday Mass Available each Sunday at 9am, celebrated by Archbishop Cushley. It is posted on YouTube, Facebook and on this Website.
  • BCOS Booklet The Bishops' Conference of Scotland prayer booklet for when Mass cannot be celebrated publicly is available here.
  • Memorare Archbishop Cushley has asked us to recite the Memorare each day to Our Lady, Health of the Sick. Click here.
  • Eucharist Fasting from the eucharist, by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). Click here.
  • Spritual Communion How to make a spiritual communion. Click here. The Value of Mass without the Congregation, click here.

Safeguarding

  • Our statement on Covid-19 and safeguarding is here.

Connecting
Matthew Meade is our Director of Communications. You can email him on matthew.meade@staned.org.uk or call 07833208211. Please approach your priest if your query relates to your parish.

 

Updates

Tue 17 Nov PM

The First Minister today announced Level 4 measures which will affect four areas in our diocese - Stirling, West Lothian, East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire. These begin on Friday at 6pm for a period of three weeks. Read more here.

Areas in our diocese going into Level 4 measures

  • Stirling
  • West Lothian
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • North Lanarkshire

Tue 10 Nov PM

Covid update: Three further councils - Angus, Fife and Perth & Kinross - have entered Level 3 restrictions. This has no impact on the numbers who can attend Mass in our Archdiocese. No local authority will move down a level this week.

Thur 29 0ct PM

The First Minister has announced Covid-19 level restrictions across Scotland. The current levels do not impact on the number of people who can attend a Mass (50 max) in the Archdiocese or in Scotland.

Level 2
- Borders
- Fife

Level 3
- Edinburgh
- East/Mid/West Lothian
- Stirling
- Falkirk
- North Lanarkshire
- East Dunbartonshire

Fri 23 0ct PM

Churches will remain open in all tiers of the Scottish Government's new system of coronavirus alerts. This comes into effect on 02 November. Full framework document is available here.

 

Thur 15 0ct  PM

From Friday 16 October there will be an exemption in the regulations for the couple in an indoor ceremony when getting married or entering a civil partnership not to wear face masks

  • In recognition of the significance of the event to couples, an exemption on wearing a face mask has been introduced for the couple getting married or entering a civil partnership for the duration of the ceremony or registration provided the couple are physically distanced from any other person.
  • Any other person present at the ceremony or registrations would still be required to wear a face covering. The exemption for the couple would not apply to any celebration related to the ceremony or registration such as a wedding reception.
  • The wearing of face coverings is mandatory for anyone who enters or remains in an indoor public place where a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is taking place unless an exemption applies.
  • There is a specific exemption for the person leading the marriage ceremony or civil partnership such as the celebrant or registrar.

Wed 07 0ct  PM

Following queries from parishes, we provide the following updates:

Newsletters: After some negotiation with BCOS, we have been advised that Parish Newsletters could be issued in small numbers for those who don’t have access to the internet. There is an element of risk involved in the processing and distribution and so they are still not recommended for general use. They could be made available (but not handed out) on exit from the Church and after people have sanitised their hands. This matter has been queried on several occasions and so we are unlikely to get any further concessions.

Parish Meetings: Work-related meetings are allowed in Church Halls in limited circumstances and meetings of the Deaneries and Parish Committee’s (i.e. Parish Council, Finance Committee) could be held. It is recommended that meetings are brief, with as few people as necessary, social distancing is followed, papers are not distributed on the day but in advance and no refreshments are served. These types of meetings come under the jurisdiction of the normal running of the Diocese and Parishes and should not be confused with meetings of external groups such as the Legion of Mary or SSVP etc.

Test & Protect (T&P): Should someone in a congregation receive a positive Covid test result, the T&P Team advises against a general announcement being made in the Parish as this may only cause anxiety or panic. If the person is tested in the UK, the automatic tracing process will ensure that they are interviewed about where they have been. A judgement is then made based on a number of different factors before others are advised to go into self-isolation. If a person leaves the UK and subsequently advises you that they have received a positive test result, please request their details (preferably via email) and send this to the Archdiocesan Covid Team who can advise T&P and the tracing process will be started from the UK. It is not necessary to obtain consent for this information as it is currently a legal requirement for the public good.

Mon 05 0ct PM

Priests and parish volunteers' high standards of infection control means public worship and parish life can carry on, despite a rise in the rate of Covid-19 infections.

In a letter sent to Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes, the bishops of Scotland said that Catholic churches are among the safest places to attend thanks to “meticulous” infection control and safety measures. Read our story here.

Friday 07 Sep PM

FAQ: Why is the attendance figure for Masses and Baptisms 50, while weddings and funerals it's 20?

The numbers of people who can attend places of worship is dictated by the Scottish Government and the Bishops' Conference of Scotland (BCOS) agreed with this to enable Catholic churches to re-open to the public. The Scottish Government defines Mass and Baptism as Public Religious Worship events but Funerals and Weddings as Life Events. It’s only in the Catholic Church in which these are usually held within a Mass. So, in a secular society, the difference is not always understood. BCOS is pushing the Government to relax the restrictions, but as yet an increase has not be agreed.

Friday 04 Sep PM

Archbishop Cushley has updated clergy with the below details to offer clarification on the latest Covid-19 guidance for churches and church halls. Correct as of 04 September. He wrote: "Updates from the Government are being received daily, and so keeping you informed of the latest changes is a challenge, but our Archdiocesan Covid Team will seek to make sure you have the latest information as soon as is possible. With an assurance of my prayers for you and your people. Sincerely in Christ, Archbishop Leo Cushley."

Poster
This gives snapshot of the current situation.

Test and Protect Process (TPP)
This is Scotland’s version of Track & Trace and may work differently. A person who suspects they may have symptoms has the responsibility to get tested. If they do, the following will happen in the event of a positive result:

  • The Test Centre will report the positive test result to the TPP.
  • If they have been to Mass, the Parish will be asked to submit the contact information of those who attended within the relevant time-period and must do so by law.
  • TPP will contact everyone with whom the affected person has been in contact.
  • The TPP will make a judgement on who should isolate, and this may not be everyone – those who sat far away from the affected person may not have to isolate.
  • The Church should temporarily close. This can be for a period of 72 hours, after which the virus will have died or for a shorter period to allow a more thorough cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces. How long this latter option will take depends on the numbers of volunteers available and so each Parish will need to make this decision.
  • In the case where the Priest needs to self-isolate for a full 14 days or who contracts the virus, contact your Dean for cover.
  • It is not recommended that you make a public announcement about a potential infection – this could cause anxiety and panic. The relevant parishioners will be contacted separately and privacy under GDPR will be maintained.

Church Halls
These are considered part of the Community Centre sector and guidance has not yet been published for this by the Scottish Government. Also, it needs to be understood that the Government sees a difference between “Regulated” and “Unregulated” premises and activities. Church Halls, and the activities therein, mostly fall into the Unregulated category and so comparisons with cafés, dance studios, gyms etc. are not relevant, because they will be covered by specific guidance for their industry. This also means that the regulations for meetings indoors govern what can be allowed to happen and, at the moment, this is still a maximum of 8 people from 3 households. Some activities for children are Regulated – such as education or childcare where these are provided by a registered provider. We are awaiting confirmed guidance about those run by the voluntary sector.

This means that all the activities we would or could hold in a Church Hall can only be held if the relevant industry sector guidance is followed. This can run to several dozens of pages of reading of legislation and therefore it would be prudent to consult the Covid Team before you commence an activity.

Numbers at Mass
BCOS is in the process of pushing the Government to allow an increase in the numbers attending Mass dependent on the size of the building. The Catholic Church throughout Scotland has shown an excellent response in re-opening Churches in a safe and controlled manner and so, it is hopeful that we will see a positive change in this area.

 

Wednesday 26 August PM

This Living in Faith newsletter from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, compiled by the BCOS Pastoral Ministry Working Group, provides information, advice and resources emerging from a recent survey of parishes. Read it here.

Wednesday 12 August PM

Parish Halls - advice on the reopening of parish halls can be found here. The use of Parish Halls is still very limited but Children’s Liturgy can meet during Mass if there are sufficient volunteers, time and space (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).

Tuesday 11 August PM

Bookings for Mass: In those parishes that are 'managing' bookings for Sunday Mass and are finding themselves oversubscribed each week, consideration should be given to asking parishioners to limit themselves to booking for Sunday Mass every 2 or 3 weeks, rather than weekly.  This would allow more parishioners the chance to attend Sunday Mass (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).

 Tue 28 July 2020

Ventilation: Parish Co-ordinators are reminded that church buildings should be kept well-ventilated during Mass to minimise the risks of people being in a confined space.  You should consider opening doors and windows where this is feasible (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).


Thursday 16 July PM

Archbishop Cushley and parishioners at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh featured on yesterday's Reporting Scotland, to give their reaction to public Mass resuming.

Tuesday 14 July PM

The Bishops' Conference of Scotland has today issued these guidelines to show what you can expect when attending Mass. Click on the following format to view and download - jpeg, pdf, Word.

Monday 13 July AM

Update from the BCOS Covid-19 webpage

Health protocol for distribution of Holy Communion. Clergy distributing Holy Communion should:

  • sanitise their hands immediately prior to distributing Holy Communion
  • wear a face covering while distributing Holy Communion
  • direct congregants to receive Holy Communion in their hand by stretching out their arms with one hand on top of the other, then taking steps to the side to place the host on the tongue.

Thursday 09 July AM

The First Minister has announced that places of worship can open from Wednesday 15th July for congregational worship. Here's what she said:

“After careful consideration we’ve decided that from 15th July places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation.

However, numbers will be strictly limited, two metres’ physical distancing will be required and there will also be a requirement to collect the contact details and time of attendance of those entering a place of worship. Unfortunately, given what we know about transmission risks, singing and chanting will also be restricted. Detailed guidance is currently being finalised in consultation with our faith communities, but I hope that today’s announcement will be welcomed by all those for whom faith and worship is important and a source of comfort.

“In addition…we will also ease restrictions on attendance at ceremonies and services for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships. However, numbers will be even more limited than for worship generally and physical distancing will be required…I am acutely aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance of  funerals have been particularly hard to bear and I am verygrateful to everyone who has complied in what I know will be heartbreaking circumstances.

“While the changes which come into effect next week (15th) will not allow full scale gatherings yet, I hope they will allow people to find solace at a time of grief while allowing more people to celebrate happy occasions such as weddings and civil partnerships.”

Wednesday 01 July AM

A new guide to using Eventbrite is available. It's a free online system which a parish can use to manage bookings for Mass when capacity is restricted. View it here.

Monday 29 June AM

VIDEO: Parishioners from St Mary's Cathedral and St Andrews Church in Edinburgh have given their response to returning to church.

Friday 26 June PM

St Mary's Kelso, was on ITV Borders yesterday in a report about churches reopening for private prayer. Well done Fr David and parishioners!

Monday 22 June AM

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland (BCOS) has welcomed the announcement that churches may reopen for private prayer from today (22 June). More here. Read the Scottish Government guidance here.

Thursday 18 June PM

The First Minister of Scotland has announced that, with effect from Monday 22nd June, churches can re-open for private prayer. More here

Monday 15 June PM

Archbishop Cushley featured on BBC Radio Scotland's Sunday Morning programme to share his thoughts on what the gradual easing of lockdown might mean for Catholic churches in Scotland. More here.

Saturday 13 June AM

Archbishop Cushley will appear on national radio tomorrow (Sunday 14 June) to discuss the reopening of Catholic churches in Scotland. More here

Friday 12 June AM

Here's our summary of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland guidance on the reopening of churches in Phase 2 of the Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.

Wed  11 June PM

A US student stuck in St Andrews used his lockdown time to help parishes get ready for reopening - with a guide to using Eventbrite. Matthew Matisz (18), of Pittsburgh, produced simple instructions for using the free ticketing system so parishes can consider if they want to use an online method to help them regulate numbers. See the guide here. Our story here

Mon 09 June PM

Mgr Allan Chambers, of St Mary's in Bathgate, presents our 'Back to Church Basics' video. More details here.

Fri 05 June PM

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has created an online Covid-19 hub featuring documents and resources. Find it here. Our initial coverage is here

Wed 03 June PM

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has finalised its proposed infection control standards which will govern the reopening of parishes and confirmed that they have sent their guidelines to the Scottish Government. More here.

Tuesday 02 June 2020 (PM)

The Bishops' Conference of Scotland are meeting today to discuss the next steps in the church's approach to the safe reopening of churches. An announcemnet on this is expected tomorrow.

Thursday 28 May 2020 (PM)

Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh will re-open at weekends following the Scottish Government's announcement of the first phase in the lifting of lockdown restrictions. More here.

Wednesday 27 May 2020 (AM)

The national Covid-19 Working Group, tasked with creating protocols to govern the phased reopening of Catholic Churches in Scotland, meets today (Wednesday 27 May). More here.

Thursday 21 May 2020 (PM)

The Scottish Government has announced a four-phase "route map" towards easing the country's lockdown restrictions. This begins on 28 May. Read it here.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today: "The route map also indicates when places of worship may re-open. It makes clear that while our current guidance on funerals - one of the most distressing and heartbreaking rules of the lockdown - remains unfortunately unchanged for now, we do hope to relax it as we move from phase one into phase two."

Sunday 17 May 2020 (PM)

People across Scotland will join together in prayer at 7pm tonight (Sunday) for the eighth consecutive week. More here.

Thursday 14 May 2020 (AM)

Infection Control and Liturgical Norms will be the focus of The Covid-19 Working Group, tasked with the creation of an Infection Control Protocol to govern the phased reopening of churches for public worship. More here.

A new Covid-19 group will examine how best to meet the long-term pastoral needs of Catholics during the current pandemic. More here.

Wednesday 13 May 2020 (PM)

Archbishop Cushley has rededicated the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima (13 May) as we pray for an end to the Coronavirus. Watch the video below.

Wednesday 06 May 2020 (PM)

Scotland's former chief medical officer will chair a Covid-19 working group formed by bishops as steps continue towards reopening churches. More here.

Monday 04 May 2020 (AM)

National media outlets reported at the weekend on plans to reopen Catholic Churches in Scotland. This story originates from a Press Association interview with Bishop John Keenan. View some of the coverage below.

 

STV, click here
BBC, click here
Daily Record, click here
Scottish Catholic Observer, click here
Press Gazette, click here

Thursday 30 April 2020 (AM)

Scotland's bishops are working together with authorities in taking the next steps towards getting churches across the country safely reopened. More here.

Tuesday 28 April 2020 (PM)

A priest has revealed how a pensioner's cheeky comment sparked the idea to play his accordian on Facebook for parishioners during lockdown. More here.

Monday 27 April 2020 (AM)

We've compiled a list of ten sites we hope will help you through lockdown - offering inspiration, resources and information. Visit here.

Friday 24 April 2020 (AM)

The St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2020 has been cancelled, but organisers are already planning to make next year’s event extra special. Read here.

Thursday 23 April 2020 (PM)

The Scottish Government's recent decision to make provision for the delivery of abortion medication by post during the coronavirus lockdown has been described as “deeply troubling.” Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, also hit out at the decision to allow women experiencing crisis pregnancies to have consultations by phone or video. Read the story here.

Wednesday 22 April 2020 (AM)

The head of Mary's Meals has thanked parishioners in our Archdiocese and across Scotland for their ongoing support during the coronavirus pandemic. Read here. Support Mary's Meals here.

Wednesday 22 April 2020 (AM)

Priest reveals his message to couples who have had their wedding cancelled due to coronavirus. Read here

Saturday 18 April 2020 (AM)

Churches across Scotland have joined together to issue a 'Call to Prayer' at 7pm on Sunday. Read here.

Thursday 16 April 2020 (PM)

Archbishop Leo Cushley highlights how historic differences between Christian denominations can't stop us working together, being good friends and promoting unity, particularly during the current pandemic. Read his reflection here.

Wednesday 15 April 2020 (AM)

A brilliant daily Bible resource for families with young children is being supported by Archbishop Cushley during the Covid19 lockdown.