Today, 10 March, the Church of England has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches, as follows:
“It is our view, in light of the continued increase of COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom, that it is now necessary to suspend the administration of the chalice as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace, blessing or “laying on of hands”. We therefore advise that all priests should:
- Offer Communion in one kind only to all communicants i.e. the consecrated bread/wafer/host, with the priest alone taking the wine;
- suspend handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace;
- suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to clergy to update on this guidance.”
The Archbishops’ advice replicates the new guidance, and states:
“From today, when we preside at the Eucharist at Lambeth Palace and at Bishopthorpe Palace, we are going to give communion in one kind only (the bread) and will not share the peace nor lay on hands for blessings.”
This brings the Church of England’s guidance into line with the current guidance of the other Anglican Provinces in the UK & Ireland and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
[Since this guidance was issued, there have been a number of updates within the Church of England and elsewhere, and these are now listed in a separate post, which itself is updated frequently.]