Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Action Plan
The current advice is that cases of Coronavirus will continue to increase reaching a peak and then slowly subside. At the height of any pandemic significant numbers could be affected over several weeks. Workplaces could be affected, schools might close and gatherings for activities might be prohibited by the Government. Inevitably, such a situation would affect church members and church activities.
It is important that all clergy and church officers regularly wash their hands following the advice given. As well as any ceremonial washing of hands, clergy and servers should use hand gel at the offertory and be careful how the elements are handled. This should be undertaken in a public way to provide reassurance to the congregation.
Where Churches take a collection by passing a plate/bag, alternative methods of collecting money need to be considered.
Consideration needs to be given within Parishes where food is served (including coffee/biscuits after services) to ensure that good hygiene practices are in place and opportunities for touch are minimised. The use of hand gel, latex gloves etc should be considered where appropriate.
Churches should also consider using electronic communications to avoid unnecessary having to hand out paper which could have traces of the virus.
- Holy Communion
At all Eucharistic celebrations, both the bread and wine are to be consecrated and consumed by the President. Depending on the advice given by the Diocese, Holy Communion is to be given only under the form of bread during a pandemic. Before such advice is given, local clergy may decide for pastoral reasons to cease distribution of the Common Cup.
- Public Meetings
The trigger to close all meetings except those for public worship would be the closure of schools.
Public worship would be maintained as much as possible.
- Clergy Cover and joint services
In the event of a pandemic, it is possible that significant numbers of clergy will also be affected either by being ill themselves or having to self-isolate. In such a case, Ealing Deanery would try and cover services by ensuring at least one church remains open for worship in locality groupings:
- Central Ealing
- Northolt, Greenford and Perivale
If this is necessary a pattern of services should be agreed and publicised to enable members of different congregations to attend. Where necessary non-Eucharistic worship may be led by those who are authorised to do so.
We will continue to offer support to the Hospital Chaplains as far as is possible
- Pastoral Care
Clergy should become aware of those in their congregations may become ill or need to self-isolate and do not have family/friends to support them. If possible pastoral supporters should also be identified who can keep in touch should be the need arise.
Clergy are asked to draw up lists of those who can offer pastoral care (visiting, talking Home Communion to the sick and so on). They should have been briefed about hygiene and appropriate contact in the context of the pandemic. This information should be notified to the Area Dean.
Lists of all those who are available to offer care will be circulated to the parishes in the event of necessity.
- Use of electronic communications
We will use telephone and electronic communication as much as possible. It will be for individual clergy to make pastoral decisions about the need for personal visits.
- Clergy Illness
Clergy should not soldier on if they are sick – this will only spread the virus. In case of illness, assistant staff should inform their Parish Priest and Incumbents should inform the Area Dean.
If the Area Dean is sick he will nominate a deputy to co-ordinate this plan.
Agreed 11th March 2020