This paper refers to opening St Agnes’ Church Eastbourne for worship led by the Eastbourne Ordinariate Mission. The church is used by other groups but this paper does not specifically apply to them. The order of points in this paper follows the order of points in the Government guidance for re-opening places of worship.

This protocol remains under review and will be updated in line with the changing situation.

We remind worshippers of the government’s “Rule of six”. Groups within the church must comprise either an individual household, or support bubble, or up to six people from different households.

We remind worshippers of the “1m+” social distancing with face coverings.

We have completed a risk assessment (see below) and adopted practices (listed here) which are intended to reduce the likelihood of contracting Covid-19.

There are no other similar venues re-opening in the vicinity.

Worship practices are adapted according to the Bishops’ Guidance for the Celebration of Mass as mediated through the Liturgical Directory in Divine Worship; the General Instruction to the Roman Missal; and Church law and instructions.

We continue to stream worship events, to continue to reach those who are self-isolating or particularly vulnerable.

No items such as icons and the like are handled communally.

Reusable resources such as hymnbooks and lectionaries are withdrawn and replaced where possible with single-use worship aids which are clearly marked to be taken away or disposed of by the individual worshipper.

Communion from the common cup is withdrawn. Communion in one kind (via individual wafers) is distributed solely by the priest celebrant having cleansed his hands immediately beforehand. If there is accidental contact between the priest and communicant, he will immediately cleanse his hands again. No face-to-face responses are made at communion.

The ciborium containing wafers for consumption by the people remains covered while the words of consecration are spoken.

Music is essential to an act of worship and is sung unaccompanied by cantor(s) suitably distanced from the congregation. The congregation is distanced and not facing one another, but congregational singing is strongly discouraged.

Holy water stoups are emptied.

Cash donations are permitted into a suitable receptacle and held for at least 48 hours before being counted. Cashless donation is possible.

Young people are the responsibility of their parent or guardian.

We provide the opportunity to contribute to the NHS Test & Trace service and keep an accurate temporary record of visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable in our setting, and we assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for the data which worshippers have provided, if needed for contact tracing and the investigation of local outbreaks.

We remind worshippers of the requirement (with exemptions and exceptions) for face coverings to be worn.

Social distancing and capacity are managed by passing on the Government guidance for distancing between individuals and groups, households or support bubbles, including via advice from stewards. The church uses pews, so numbers are flexible within the distancing allowed for, and the church will be declared full once it is not possible to accommodate attendees with appropriate distancing. A one-way route into, out of, and within the church is operated, and some routes (eg through the church hall) are locked and marked out of use to facilitate this. Emergency use is maintained. Where possible, windows and doors are opened to allow increased ventilation.

Because of the use of pews, face-to-face seating is avoided.

People who are symptomatic of Covid-19 are not allowed to enter the church. The liturgy is live-streamed (where this is possible) to allow remote participation.

Individuals who are self-isolating are expected to follow the Government guidance applicable to them.

Hand sanitiser is available at the entrance to and exit from the church and worshippers are encouraged by signage and stewards to sanitise their hands.

One toilet is available, approached through the church hall. Hand sanitiser, running water and soap, and hand dryers are available. The toilet is cleaned thoroughly by stewards after the liturgy.

All surfaces which may have been touched during worship are cleaned using proprietary cleaners after the service. Cleaning is also carried out before the service if the church has been used in the previous 72 hours and there is any doubt about cleaning.

Individuals who exhibit symptoms, or who are shielding, or who become unwell, or who aged 70 or over, or who are extremely clinically vulnerable, are expected to follow Government guidance applicable to them.

These principles are publicised on our website, and at the church in individuals’ worship aids and by using standardised signage.

Risk assessment

Risk: Contact with coronavirus leading to infection causing illness
Severity: 4 (High) (Major injury/damage/disablement; medium-term interruption to public worship within the Mission)
Likelihood: 2 (Unlikely) PHE: fewer than 42 positive cases in the borough between 5 and 11 October†
GOV.UK: 18 positive tests in the borough between 9 and 15 October‡
KCL/ZOE: estimated 121 active cases in the borough*
Population of the Borough of Eastbourne: around 104,000 people
Risk indicator/priority: 8 (Medium)
Controls in place: As detailed above. Mitigating the existing risk is intended to lower the figure for “likelihood” and thus the risk indicator.

Risk/Priority indicator key

This is derived from that published by the Diocese of Portsmouth

  • Severity/Consequence
    1 Negligible (no injury/damage/interruption; possible delay)
    2 Slight (minor injury/damage/interruption)
    3 Moderate (injury/damage; short-term interruption)
    4 High (major injury/damage/disablement; medium-term interruption)
    5 Very high (fatality; long-term interruption)
    1 Improbable/very unlikely
    2 Unlikely
    3 Even chance/may happen
    4 Likely
    5 Almost certain
  • Risk/Priority indicator matrix
    Severity → 1 2 3 4 5
    Likelihood ↓ 1 1 2 3 4 5
    2 2 4 6 8 10
    3 3 6 9 12 15
    4 4 8 12 16 20
    5 5 10 15 20 25
    Summary Suggested timeframe
    20+ Unacceptable Stop. Take immediate action
    12–19 High As soon as possible
    6–11 Medium Within the next three working days
    2–5 Low Whenever it is viable to do so

  • † Because of the way PHE publishes data across the borough, precise figures are not available
    ‡ Positive tests by specimen date
    * The latest figures on the date shown below or the last weekday prior