The Church of England’s Digital Team has circulated Last Minute Resources which “might be useful to share with [the] community – whether…celebrating online or onsite. These can compliment what’s planned locally.” These resources include a number of FAQs on What to expect at church this Christmas , and extracts of relevance to legal issues are reproduced below.
Are churches open in England?
Yes! It’s legal for churches to open for in person attendance. You are very welcome. Find your nearest church and check their Christmas services on AChurchNearYou.com.
Is an on-line church an option?
Absolutely! Many churches are offering online services that you can watch using Zoom, Facebook or YouTube. Search for your nearest church at achurchnearyou.com and above the list of churches that opens, type ‘livestream’ in the filter box to see those offering online services.
Do I need a vaccine or proof of a negative COVID test to go to church?
The Church’s position has been a clear policy of encouraging people to be vaccinated, but, other than in very exceptional circumstances, opposition to limiting access to church services or organisations on the basis of vaccine certification. Each church completes its own risk assessment, and so far very few are deciding to ask for this.There may be some cathedrals doing so, because they are such large capacity venues.
Do I have to book or can I just turn up at church this Christmas?
Usually you can just turn up to any church service. Following a risk assessment, some churches may now be offering booking systems to ensure social distancing. Contact your nearest church to find out what they’re doing – find your nearest church and their contact details on AChurchNearYou.com.
Do I need to wear a face covering at church this Christmas? Do they have to be worn when singing?
You do need to wear a face covering in church, unless you’re exempt. It’s not mandatory while singing but many churches will be recommending people do so to help stop the virus spreading.
The people leading the service and anyone singing at the front (such as a choir or band) don’t have to wear a face covering when they are speaking to the congregation or singing. They do at other times.
Will there be social distancing at Church this Christmas?
Each church has done their own risk assessment to decide about whether to set up for social distancing. Find your nearest church on AChurchNearYou.com and their page may well say what they’re doing or if not you can contact them to ask.
The FAQs are prefaced by the statement “[t]his information was last checked on 17 December 2021, and reflects government guidance on that day. We will endeavour to keep it up to date if guidelines change”.
The latest guidance COVID-19 Opening and managing church buildings, v2.3 is dated 9 December 2021, and the updated Risk Assessment for Opening Church Buildings to the Public during Coronavirus (COVID-19), V10.1 (10 December 2021) takes account of the legal requirement to wear face coverings. Other more general FAQs are available here (scroll down).