The Coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly changing situation. We update this page as advice changes, so please check back regularly. We are following government advice closely.
UPDATED WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2020
The 22 Sept new guidelines and the 'Rule of Six' do NOT substantially change how we are running organised activities, including worship services, leaders' meetings and youth activities.
- We continue to host weekly Sunday services at The King's Centre.
- We will also continue to stream services, indefinitely.
- Our Communities are meeting, including small in-person meetings as now permitted by Rule of Six.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO FOLLOW GOVERNMENT ADVICE!
Our 'Covid working group' (Andy O'Connell, Sanjay Mahtani, Kirsty Gay, Andrew Clark, Ruth Morton, Mark Eley) meets every 2-3 weeks to consider OCC's response as the national situation evolves.
- We monitor advice from the government and other sources, including the Evangelical Alliance and Church of England, as well as Safeguarding considerations.
- We also monitor local Covid data.
Full guidance for the reopening of places of worship was published by government on Monday 29 June, permitting public worship in groups larger than 30.
- These rules have been updated from time to time. The King's Centre is a registered place of worship, and the rules also apply to any other venues we hire.
- The guidelines allow churches to restart 'public worship' activities, while other areas of life face ongoing restriction, because of the impact of loneliness, anxiety and damage to mental health people are facing in this pandemic. In other words, even those making the rules see that church, worship and community is good for spiritual wellbeing!
Of course, even if we decide to run an activity, every person is in a different situation, and in deciding whether to participate needs to consider the needs of their household.
We are allowed to conduct worship services at The King's Centre under rules for places of worship. These require us, Health and Safety law, to assess the number of people who can safely gather while social distancing, and manage events in a Covid-secure way.
We also stream weekly services for those who cannot attend in person.
After a one-off Sunday service on 26 July testing new arrangements, we recommenced weekly services on 30 August. There are several aspects we want to emphasise:
- Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell) or who has been asked to self-isolate (due to being a contact of a case, because of their recent travel history, or at the request of a medical professional for any other reason) should not attend the place of worship due to the risk that they pose to others; they should self-isolate at home immediately with other members of their household.
- No congregational singing is permitted for now, because of the high risk of 'aerosol transmission'. Apparently, masks don't help with that either, and the rules also apply to meetings in the open air. We are only allowed a group of up to 6 singers, leading everyone else. We are learning how to worship God together without singing.
- No food and drink: For now, we are not able to serve refreshments or arrange bring-and-share lunches together at TKC. We are piloting table service meals for one or two small events, as allowed by regulations.
- Children and youth: Please see below.
- Social distancing: We will have a one-way system and socially distanced seating. The law requires people not to mingle (mixing with other groups) and we are required to ask you leave the building and grounds promptly that after the service. (The rules also apply in the grounds of the property.)
- Face coverings: Face coverings are required by law to be worn in public indoor settings including places of worship (there are various exemptions, including those with health reasons, and those leading the service).
- Cleaning: The building and toilets will have been cleaned thoroughly before we arrive. We have a modern ventilation system in the Thames Hall, which changes the room air regularly.
- We are required to store visitor records to assist with track-and-trace. To comply with this we are checking people in to events via ChurchSuite. Pre-booking is not required.
Communities are vital as our primary vehicle for extended family, care and mutual support. Even whilst physical meetings may be severely constrained, we are looking to support each other as best we can.
From Monday 14 September, Government advice permits up to 6 people to meet indoors or outdoors, while continuing to socially distance. This replaces previous guidance on two households meeting indoors. This change enables our Communities to gather in smaller groups of up to 6, as they see fit, as well as ongoing meetings by Zoom.
Additionally, place of worship and other guidelines permit Communities and teams to meet in larger groups by booking a room at TKC, via the church office.
Communities are also involved in supporting neighbours and community initiatives. We regularly update our advice on that here and are pleased that government have published guidelines on safely helping other people here.
Youth and children
Rules around what is permitted for youth and children in 'out of school settings' are complex, and tighter than permitted in formal education settings. We reviewed them again in September and have updated our risk assessment and working arrangements.
- 0-5s: We reviewed guidance again on 28 September, and are of the view that we cannot yet effectively reopen our Sunday creche.
- YR-Y6: Sunday activities for primary children: We ask that children have spent at least 1 term in school, as they are more able to comply distancing requirements. Face coverings are not required for under-11s.
- Y7-Y13: Activities for youth on Sundays and Fridays: Face coverings are required at all times and youth will be in bubbles of no more than 15.
One-to-one meetings, including personal pastoral conversations, can now happen in person, either indoors or outdoors, if mutually agreed.
Our pastoral and administrative staff are now working flexibly, from home, and from The King's Centre as necessary.
Some leadership meetings (staff and volunteers) are now happening, in person, at The King's Centre, in line with workplace guidance.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions about our Covid-secure arrangements, or wish to raise concerns, please email the church office here.