As I’m sure that you can imagine, there have been numerous versions of the COVID risk assessment created and recreated for St Mark’s during the past year and a half. Initially, during the various lockdowns there were very specific guidelines to be followed, but more recently it has become the responsibility of the Vicar to decide the best way forward and I do this with the able assistance of both Sue and Clare as Church Wardens.
In some ways it absolutely makes sense to localise this responsibility, as each church building and congregation is different, but in other ways it presents a real challenge- even having taken in the latest advice and guidance and with the sincere desire for everyone to feel welcomed and safe, whatever is decided is likely to be too much for some and not enough for others. We recognise this as we put out to you updated guidelines from the outcomes of our latest risk assessment. Please read these and do accordingly as we seek to keep each other safe and well this season. Most of them should be familiar to you!
- Masks—please wear a mask if you are able to do so. Spares will be available at the front door. Please continue to wear your mask for singing together in the congregation.
- Hand gel—please make use of the hand gels positioned by the entrance door and at the back of church.
- Space—please consider how to give people space. If you would like additional space around you when seated, place the ‘smiley face’ signs on the chairs nearby. Smiley face = ‘I’d like some space’.
- Refreshments—obviously you will need to remove your mask to drink your tea or coffee! Please bring your drink into the worship area as it is a larger space and again, be mindful to give space when talking to others.
- Ventilation—now that the colder weather has arrived we need to find a balance between ventilating the space and heating it. To allow ventilation we will open the balcony windows on arrival. The heating will be on until ten minutes before the service when it will be turned off and the back door will then be propped ajar to allow for additional ventilation. The room will retain its heat for a while, but you may notice it is colder than in the past so do wear an extra jumper!
- Signage—the reminder board will remain by the front door, and welcomers and sides people have had guidelines for their roles for some time- but it also relies on each of us doing our bit to keep each other safe.
This is an ongoing process, and we will be continuing to check advice from the Government, Church of England and other agencies as we learn more about the new variant. We understand that for some of you this new strain will mean that you prefer to continue or return to worship at home, and we’re grateful to the livestream team for continuing our online provision. As always, do talk to us if you have any questions.
Nicola, Sue and Clare