Archbishop Cushley has updated clergy on the latest Covid-19 guidance for churches and church halls.
It follows feedback from the Archdiocese's Covid-19 support team, which is available to assist priests with information and advice concerning their parish.
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."
The below information, put together by the Covid-19 support team, was shared with all clergy yesterday (Thursday 03 September).
A summary 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.
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.