The Scottish Government have moved the whole of Scotland into the ‘beyond level 0’ phase of the pandemic easing. The need for Risk Assessments however has not diminished, it remains vital that
congregations ensure that their Risk Assessment is regularly reviewed and updated in line with current Church of Scotland guidance / practice. The detailed guidance and ‘actions’ below were approved by the Kirk Session on Wednesday 9th February 2022.
The status of most government and church COVID guidance has now changed and should be regarded as ‘good practice' rather than strictly enforced regulations. However, some aspects, such as face coverings and registering attendance in some settings (e.g. Hospitality,) remain a legal requirement.
Capacity and Distancing
The limits on capacity within churches have been removed. It is important that when congregations feel it necessary to increase capacity they do so safely and after undertaking a Risk Assessment process. It is recommended that congregations consider whether keeping distancing throughout a church building will be a useful mitigation to continue in the months that lie ahead.
Action – Maintain current capacity/seating restrictions until 1st April; then, if prevailing conditions permit, open-up the central ‘individual’ section and the ‘family’ section to normal seating layout – retaining the ’Couples’ section with 1m spacing restrictions until 1st June to appease those members still concerned about their personal safety and welfare.
Church building visitors, contractors, volunteers and employees should continue to register all visitations until a review is conducted ahead of 1st April.
Booking, check-in and contact details
The regulation to keep a register of those attending worship has been removed by the Government.
Action – Encourage use of Lateral Flow Test before coming to Church and w.e.f. 1st April withdraw the weekly need to maintain a  congregational register for those in church.
Face coverings
It is still a legal requirement that people wear a face covering when attending a church for worship. Unless people are medically exempt or under the age of 12, everyone needs to wear a face covering when entering and leaving churches, when they are seated in pews and when they stand to sing. Those leading worship, reading scripture, or singing in a choir which is physically apart from the congregation
(for example, on a chancel) have an exemption to remove their face covering when actively involved in the leading or singing, but should return to wearing the face covering when, for example, sitting listening to the sermon.
Action – Maintain current guidance, signage and provision of masks.
A choir may also remove face coverings when actively singing if they are in an area apart from the congregation (chancel or choir loft, but not in the main seating area of the church) and remain 1m apart from each other. The size of the group will be defined by the available space.
Action - Reinstate choir room w.e.f. Sunday 13th Feb (PDBC = 11) and 1m spacing within chancel.
Sunday Schools and Bible classes
Children can play a part in worship as they might have done ‘pre-pandemic’. Young people aged 12 and over are required to wear a face covering. It is important to consider how young people can continue to keep a safe distance from those in other households whenever possible. (Sunday Club children move to front for Address, then exit to class).
Action - Sunday Club Room - Continue with existing mitigation measures and practices until Church of Scotland guidance suggests otherwise then review.
In the meantime – thank you for complying with our guidance and all associated measures. Your safety whilst in the church building remains the paramount focus of the Kirk Session. We pray that in the
coming months further rules will be relaxed and additional freedoms can once again be enjoyed with family and friends.
Francis B. Robertson
Session Clerk & Covid Co-ordinator