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.

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.

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Reusable resources such as hymnbooks and lectionaries are withdrawn and replaced where possible with single-use worship aids which are clearly marked to be taken away or disposed of by the individual worshipper.

Communion from the common cup is withdrawn.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.

Social distancing and capacity are managed by marking available seats for the use of individuals, households or support bubbles; and blocking access to seats. The church uses pews, so numbers are flexible within the 2m distancing allowed for. 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.

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.

Because of the 2m social distancing adopted and the numbers attending, Government guidance is that face coverings are not currently required. When the relevant legislation changes there will be a legal requirement to wear a face covering.

These principles are publicised on our website.

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) KCL/ZOE: around 14 active cases in the borough
PHE: fewer than 27 positive tests in the borough
Population of the Borough of Eastbourne: around 100,000 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