On 17 August, the Church of England published the following update of its guidance “particularly in light of changes to advice on choirs singing during services”. The announcement, the new FAQ and relevant part of the guidance on conducting public worship document are reproduced below.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches
In light of recent Government guidance updates we have now updated the following documents. This is particularly in light of changes to advice on choirs singing during services. Please see the top of each document for details of changes.
Last updated Monday 17 August at 14:32
- Updated Baptisms document
- Updated Weddings document
- Updated Funerals document
- Updated Holy Communion document
- Updated Confirmation services document
- Updated Ordinations and Consecrations document
- Updated Conducting public worship document*
- Updated Pastoral support in the community including care homes document
- New FAQ Can a choir sing during worship? in Prayer and worship section
* Further updated on 18 August with regard to latest face coverings guidance for those leading worship, (same URL).
FAQ: CAN A CHOIR SING DURING WORSHIP?
Yes, the congregation may not sing yet, but providing adequate distancing can be achieved, a small choir may sing. Please see our guidance on public worship for more information.
Guidance on conducting public worship.
COVID-19 Advice on the Conduct of Public Worship, v 2.1
Dated 17 August:
Update on version 2: sections 17. and 18. Have been updated to reflect the updated Government guidance on Performing Arts and Places of Worship issued on the 13th and 14th August respectively.
17. Can we sing?
It is now permissible for both professional and non-professional singers and musicians to perform in small groups to people inside and outside of buildings in line with the recommendations for physical distancing and hygiene set out by the Government in their performing arts guidance.
This includes those who regularly volunteer to do music and singing, as part of a choir for example, to perform as a part of worship.
Congregations are still at this time not permitted to sing as part of worship.
Wherever possible people should continue to physically distance from those they do not live with, venues, performers and audiences should be matched to ensure 2m distancing applies and the number of performers should be limited.
Those assisting with worship through music or singing do not always need to wear a face covering, but face coverings or screens should be used if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
18. Can our worship band play?
Yes, please see the guidance on singing above and the Government guidance on performing arts. Players need to be appropriately physically distanced, and the music should not be so loud that it encourages people to shout above it.
The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has produced additional practical guidance:
- Guidance for Safely Resuming Group Music-making in Church.
- Initial things to consider when planning for music in post-pandemic live services.
- COVID-19 Risk Assessment Music in live services – Template.
Hi, Could you please advise on the duration of wearing a face covering inside a place of worship. Government guidance states,
‘You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.’
However, for the snooker world championship which is in an indoor setting, spectators were given the following advice:
– At the point of entering the Crucible Theatre we will supply all audience members with a face mask. Spectators will be instructed to wear this mask whilst moving around inside the venue. This is for the combined protection of yourself and all audience members.
-When you arrive at your designated seat you are welcome to remove your mask, we ask that you remain in your seat and that before you leave your seat you replace your facemasks.
In an article it was written that Government inspectors called the Covid control measures in the Crucible Theatre exemplary.
Is it correct to adopt the same procedure for places of worship i.e. when a worshipper is seated then the face covering may be removed?
The current guidance for England in relation to places of worship says:
“Whilst engaging in an activity in the place of worship or surrounding grounds, all parties should adhere to social distancing guidelines. 2 metres or 1 metre with actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission (where 2 metres is not viable) between households are acceptable. For example, use of face coverings” [my italics].
If that’s what it says, that’s what it says. The Crucible Theatre is not a place of worship.
I suspect that there are a number of inconsistencies and illogicalities within the guidance associated with the wearing of masks, but these do not provide a justification for departing from the current government guidance. As Frank points out “If that’s what it says, that’s what it says. The Crucible Theatre is not a place of worship.”
However, the Crucible Theatre provides an interesting example of social distancing. When it was opened in 1971, it was claimed that with its “thrust stage” design, “[t]he audience sits on three sides but no member is more than 22 yards (20 meters) from the performer. Consequently, although it seats 980 people [at its “normal” capacity] the spectator has an intimate relationship with the activity on stage”.
For reference, the T&C for attendance at the Betfred World Snooker Championship 2020 are here.
Thanks for the insight.
The paragraph Frank has quoted seems to indicate that if 2m social distancing is being observed then face covering is not required.
Pingback: COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance | Law & Religion UK