Coronavirus Info

"Thank you for the hope you are bringing in these challenging times. Please do read through the most recent guidance. We are in a rapidly changing situation and it is particularly important that we are ready to respond to new situations as they arise. As we explain below, I and my fellow bishops recognise that clergy and lay leaders will be those best placed to assess the local situation and to make informed decisions accordingly which prioritise safety while sustaining the life of the church. If you have any questions, please contact your archdeacon
Bishop Michael

Regularly updated guidance will be on the national Church of England website as soon as it is available. Please check back regularly for the most up-to-date versions of guidance - which can change rapidly.

Other key guidance includes the Government's guidance for the safe use of places of worship and on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities.

We are producing regular updates through the Bulletin for clergy and other church leaders, staff and volunteers in Lichfield Diocese. Click here to receive these.

Meanwhile, we have collected here updates and information on many aspects of church life - whether in parish, school, chaplaincy or fresh expressions:

Latest Updates

15 June

Delay in lifting Covid-19 restrictions

Following the Prime Minister’s statement on coronavirus restrictions, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said:

“The confirmation tonight of a delay in the next stage of lifting Covid-19 restrictions will be a blow to many people but I understand why this decision has been taken.

“I am hugely thankful for the success and speed of the vaccination programme which has undoubtedly saved many lives - but we do have to take the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant very seriously and do all we can to protect each other as Christians called to love our neighbour.

“I know from those on the front line that the pressures on the NHS are extreme and understand that a delay of a few more weeks in lifting restrictions could make a big difference in helping us all to get ahead in the ‘race’ against this virus which has caused so much death and misery.

“Thankfully church buildings remain open for public worship and prayer. While we look forward to restrictions on worship being lifted in the near future, I will continue to press for ongoing appraisal of choral and congregational singing.

“We will also update our guidance on public worship where necessary in light of today’s announcement and I understand that the Business Committee of the General Synod will be looking at options for the planned July meeting of Synod in the next few days.

“The Prime Minister’s comments about lifting the limit of 30 people attending weddings will be a relief to many. We will await the detail from the Government about what it means in practice and will update our guidance to churches accordingly.

“Most of all, however, we do have hope. This pandemic has been a trial for us all but we put our trust in God and have hope that there are better times to come.”

The Prime Minister announced that the restrictions on the numbers who can attend weddings in England will be based from 21 June on the Covid-secure number of people who can attend with the appropriate distancing and face coverings etc. We anticipate the Church of England website will be updated with further guidance on this when available.

18 May

Updated CofE guidance

Now that we're in Step 3, the Church of England website has been updated with the following guidance documents:

  • Weddings
  • Baptisms
  • Funerals – attendance at a funeral is now based on the capacity of the venue. The guidance for a burial immediately following a funeral is that as a continuation of the service, those attending inside the church can attend the burial in the churchyard or municipal cemetery. The limit for the burial of ashes is now 30.
  • Individual private prayer
  • Permitted Activities under national 'step' regulations - Children/youth groups including on a Sunday – we have been advised that taking the various pieces of guidance together, if an activity is organised for young people/children (and where they are the main participants) then the covid safe limit of the building/room applies according to the out of school settings guidance. Where there is a mixed group such as a parent and toddler group then the limit for adults and children over 5 years old is 30 (subject to capacity; with helpers and those under 5 not included in the total). Provision of youth services added into guidance on 20 May (see page 4).
  • Conducting public worship - Hospitality – See Point 24 Food and drink: From 17 May, hospitality spaces within a place of worship, such as cafes, are permitted to open both inside. People may also provide their own food and drink at a place of worship but should ensure actions are taken to reduce the risk of transmission. As long as a hospitality space or caterer does not serve alcohol, people can order and collect food and drink from a counter, but they should consume food and drink while seated. If a hospitality space or caterer does serve alcohol, table service is required by law.

It has also updated the answer to its FAQ 'Is singing permitted?' – Also see Point 18 in 'Conducting public worship' .The guidance has been updated and is slightly more restricted than in Step 2, with a limit of 6 amateur singers, and where possible during worship the singers should be at the front of the church while the rest of the congregation remain seated.

17 May

Updated Government guidance

As Step 3 comes into effect today, the Government has published its updated Places of Worship guidance.

14 May

Updated funeral guidance

The Government has updated its funeral guidance ahead of the introduction of Step 3 on 17 May. This includes guidance that commemorative events, including the burial and scattering of ashes, will see an increase in the maximum number of people in attendance to 30.

See the update below (11 May) regarding funeral attendance itself.

11 May

Changes from 17 May

From 17 May, the latest Government guidance says:

Funeral attendance will no longer be limited to 30 people, but will be determined by how many people the COVID-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events will be increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will also be able to take place with 30 people.

This confirms the national Church of England guidance in the Can Funerals Go Ahead? Q&A in Life Events (although the detailed CofE funeral guidance is still to be updated).

The Government guidance also says:

People will be able to attend indoor and outdoor events... Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.

This confirms that APCMs can take place in person with the same social distancing as for worship (as outlined in the APCM Q&A on the CofE website under Finance & Governance). See also the APCM page on our website for more info.

4 May

Updated FAQs

The Church of England has updated its website FAQs about hosting children & youth groups, risk assessments for church buildings and guidance for clergy, church workers and volunteers deemed to be at additional risk. It has also added an FAQ about resources for supporting mental health and emotional well-being. 

16 April

APCMs

The Church of England has posted the following response to the question 'Is There Any Guidance Concerning Our APCM Meeting?' on its website:

See also the APCM page on our website

There are also updated guidance documents on the Church of England website on conducting public worship and funerals.

15 April

Public Services following the death of HRH Prince Philip

The limits for normal life events like individual memorial services is currently 15. However, the Church of England is treating worship services which include giving thanks for, or saying prayers for, Prince Philip, as public worship and therefore with the limit set at the safe capacity of the building. This is because Prince Philip was a public figure and it is a public service of worship, not an individual memorial service. However, it is acknowledged that the boundaries between individual and public worship are not always clear, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the “venue manager” (usually the incumbent) to decide which rules apply.

The Church of England website also now includes the current Government guidance on condolence books, which should remain online only. It also has updated FAQs on Is Singing Permitted? and How Can I Get A Lateral Flow Test?

9 April

Death of HRH Prince Philip

The Church of England website has an online condolence book plus worship, liturgical resources and guidance for churches to use. A news story, featuring tributes from Bishop Michael, Bishop Clive, is on our website.

1 April

Updated CofE guidance docs & APCMs

The Church of England website has updated its guidance on conducting public worship, weddings, outdoor worship & churchyards and test & trace.

Details for holding annual church meetings by 31 May 2021, to elect churchwardens and APCMs, are here. Information about this year's Archdeacon Visitations' will be circulated in due course - see latest info here.

26 March

Updated Government guidance - including singing

The Government has published updated guidance on the safe use of places of worship. It includes these paragraphs on singing:

From 28 March

  • Indoors: - small groups of singers will be allowed to perform, or rehearse for performance, only where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible, with social distancing being maintained at all times. Communal singing should not take place.
  • Outdoors, in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship: When communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow social distancing rules. Social contact limits apply, meaning that households, support bubbles or groups of 2 must not mingle. Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place.

From 29 March

  • indoors: guidance and rules remain the same as from 28 March
  • outdoors, in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship: when communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. New social contact limits apply.

25 March

Updated CofE guidance & Bishop Michael letter

The national Church of England website has the following updated documents:

For further information, including guidance on singing in other settings or outside of communal worship, please refer to the performing arts guidance.

17 March

Risk assessments for worship

It is required that risk assessments are completed and updated for all churches for worship both inside and outside. If you are gathering for worship for the first time between now and Easter please send a copy to your rural dean.

Having done so, or if you are already worshipping in person, there is no longer the need to send a weekly update but ensure the risk assessment is regularly updated as guidance changes, regarding what activities are permitted and numbers allowed to attend occasional offices, over the coming weeks.

If you are unable or ready to open safely and would like to request dispensation to remain closed please send a copy to your rural dean and archdeacon (as outlined below, 10 March).

10 March

Easter preparations & dispensations

Bishop Michael has written to all clergy, licensed lay ministers and churchwardens this morning about preparations for Easter, including the Chrism Service, Holy Week and Easter morning. He has explained that the general dispensation from the canonical requirements for worship will be extended until Good Friday (2 April). After that, a dispensation should be sought where a benefice does not feel able or ready safely to offer in-person worship on Sundays.

Details about the dispensation process - including the suggested template to use - are here.

Meanwhile, the Church of England website now has a helpful Four Step Plan graphic which summarises current national guidance.

8 January

Churches as vaccination centres

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield has granted an Additional Matters Order that allows churches and their halls to be used for vaccinations without the need for a faculty application providing the conditions in the order are met. See also the national Church of England guidance on Churches As Vaccination Centres.

7 January

Personal risk - and streaming

Clergy, lay ministers and other church workers and volunteers are reminded to familiarise themselves with this personal risk factors document from the Church of England when considering whether or not they should carry out their normal roles at this time of heightened risk

Following a couple of local enquiries, the national Church has also confirmed that people can still enter church buildings to stream or record services if they wish even though this wasn't specifically mentioned in the Government guidance. Resources to help churches go online are available on our website and from the national Church.

Other documents:

Other guidance and resources

Church Buildings during Covid-19

Occasional Offices

The latest legal advice on a range of matters during the pandemic.

The Ministry Shift

A 15-minute live video resource for the support of ordained and lay ministers

Virtual worship and resources

A selection of national and local broadcasts and streams of services, studies and meditation. Also:

Safeguarding during the covid-19 lockdown

Congregations continue to serve their communities and each other - but we must still have due regard for safeguarding our children and vulnerable adults

Finance and Covid-19

Advice and details for parishes including:

Pastoral Care and support

Our Wellbeing support for clergy, diocesan staff and their families continues to work - see here for details including specific advice on wellbeing through lockdown.

And our Education team put together a support page around ‘Loss and Change’ and Covid19, drawing together recommended resources that are particular focused on schools but could be used by churches too. You can find them on the website here.

Schools

Our colleagues who serve the 108 CofE schools in the diocese have lots of information and resources here.

Space to Think

Hundreds of people visited our Space For Learning page where Bishop Michael invited all ministers, clergy and lay people to engage between 1 and 12 June 2020.

Each week day during that time, there was an opportunity to take part in different ways of learning with the theme of Being in Community. Through talks, films, art, poetry, reading and discussion we are engaging with some of the key questions of what it means for Christians to be in community, how we can build communities and what community means at a time of social distancing.

We've now moved that resource along with others that are helpful and thoughtful beyond the immediate demands of daily ministry into a new section called Space to Think which will collect similar resources over time: the first addition being the spring 2021 Bread of Life series as all the bishops in the diocese take time to unpack the various aspects of Holy Communion.


Page last updated: 15th June 2021 10:02 AM