This page is aimed at providing information and updates for committees and teams that run SNU Churches and Centres, and to assist them in running safely and effectively once any lockdowns / restrictions have been lifted enabling places of worship to re-open. Please check this page regularly.

Church members and congregations should check with their church or centre when they will re-open and under what arrangements - this will reflect their different circumstances. Please support your church and its committee.


November 30th 2020: Amendments to Covid-related restrictions in #Wales announced today for December 4th 2020 appear to apply to hospitality and indoor attractions, and not places of worship. The following page gives the current guidelines and restrictions for Welsh churches: https://gov.wales/guidance-reopening-places-worship-coronavirus-html 


November 26th 2020: A list of tier categories has now been released for #England. See Gov.uk for the full list.

In #NorthernIreland a 2 week "circuit breaker" begins from Friday November 27th, which requires places of worship to close (except for funerals, civil partnerships and weddings). It has also been agreed in a later executive decision that they may open for "individual acts of worship" (private prayer).


November 24th 2020: Details of the new tier categories that will replace the lockdown restrictions in #England on December 2nd 2020 have been released. From this date places of worship can open.

Tier 1 (medium alert): Visitors cannot interact with more than 6 people ("Rule of 6").

Tiers 2 & 3 (high alert & very high alert): Visitors cannot interact with anyone outside household or support bubble.

A summary of these details, known as the "Winter Plan" are here on Gov.uk. Information about the impact on lifecycle events (i.e. weddings & funerals) are also on this page. Churches and centres in #England will be able to find out which tier they are in on November 26th 2020 when the Government releases the list. The Covid-19 App will also be updated on December 2nd 2020 to reflect the new tier categories.


November 20th 2020: Updates / round-up for current restrictions across the UK...

In #Scotland "protection levels" are shifting in some areas from November 20th 2020. As stated before, this may affect permitted numbers in a service at a place of worship. You can check these new protection levels here at gov.scot.

In #NorthernIreland new restrictions come into force on November 27th 2020 and state "Places of worship must close, except for funerals and weddings (limited to 25 people), or to broadcast an act of worship." Further information available at nidirect.gov.uk

In #Wales current restrictions are to continue for at least 2 weeks from November 20th 2020. You can read about these current "post-firebreak" restrictions for places of worship on the gov.wales website.

In #England current lockdown restrictions continue, "Places of worship [must close], apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, for funerals or funeral commemorative events, to broadcast an act of worship, to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, for registered childcare, and to host permitted gatherings." See gov.uk for further information.

As always, if our churches and centres have any questions or support needs, they are encouraged to contact us.


November 4th 2020: Following parliamentary debate, the planned lockdown in #England is to go ahead from November 5th 2020, and is so far expected to continue until Wednesday December 2nd 2020. A release from the Cabinet Office confirms the closure of "Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals." This follows our earlier post below from October 31st 2020. Other devolved nations of the UK are subject to their own existing restrictions, with the current "fire-breaker" lockdown in #Wales still in force until Monday 9th November 2020.


October 31st 2020: In this evening's Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister outlined plans for a second national lockdown in #England. It is believed that places of worship will close for public worship and allowed to be open for private prayer only, so plans are likely to mean the closure of Spiritualist churches as in the first national lockdown. As plans are published in the coming week and finalised on Wednesday in Parliament, we should have a clearer understanding. Lockdown in England is due to begin on Thursday November 5th 2020 until early December 2020. English churches who are currently open should prepare for closure once more, ensuring their buildings are secured, with cash removed and banked, any perishable items (such as food) removed to avoid infestation, and prepared for any cold weather (frost guard setting on heating etc.) Once details are confirmed, we will report them on this page, and outline any impact (should there be one) on the devolved nations of the UK. As always, please contact the Union if you need any support - we are here to help our churches and centres.


October 23rd 2020: Churches in #Scotland may have questions about the impact of the introduction of the five "protection levels." All levels will still permit places of worship to remain open. Levels 0 to 3 have numbers restricted to 50 people. Level 4 (highest) sees this restricted to 20 people. You can find a summary in a document from the Scottish Government here (PDF download - see Annex 1 for a summary of the restrictions).


October 19th 2020: For all SNU churches who have not been able to hold their AGM yet, you may find the additional restrictions problematical for holding your meeting, and Church Rules (the church constitution approved by the Charity Commission) does not permit an online AGM. To avoid putting members and committee at risk, this year's AGM can be deferred until next year. A "double AGM" will be required and two sets of reports / accounts should be presented to members. Committees would stay in place until the next AGM. If your church wishes to do this, please let head office know so that dispensation can be properly granted. Full details here.


October 19th 2020: The government in #Wales has today announced new "fire-breaker" lockdown rules. This change comes into force at 6pm on Friday October 23rd until the start of Monday 9th November 2020. Welsh churches should note the following: "Places of worship will not be open to the public, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies or funerals, where people can attend at the invitation of the organiser." 

Read more on the gov.wales website


October 14th 2020: Following the introduction of the tier system by the government in #England - churches in this nation of the UK may find the following document useful which brings together information and links relating to places of worship. Services may still take place, but there are different regulations around "mingling" within the church. Please download this summary for the detail.


October 8th 2020: For our churches in #Scotland -  it does not appear that the new measures coming into force on October 9th 2020 will change any current regulations or guidance for places of worship. The new measures affect the whole of Scotland, with further restrictions in central belt areas. These temporary measures are likely to increase the existing pressure on your congregations and increase the need for pastoral support. Useful information (for all churches across our network) on managing wellbeing and mental health during this difficult time can be found here > https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus 

As always, please contact us for support if you have any questions or issues. #KeepConnected #StaySafe


September 25th 2020: The following statement in response to request for clarification from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)...

"What is the requirement on a Place of Worship in regard to QR codes for the purposes of Test and Trace? Places of Worship are exempt from both the legal requirement to collect this information and from a new requirement to display the Test and Trace app QR code. But we strongly encourage all of you to continue to cooperate with the Test and Trace programme and its requirements." #England #Wales

Government QR Code page here > https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster


September 24th 2020: To help clarify the current restrictions around places of worship, here is a brief summary of key points. Local restrictions may override any of these so please check if your church is within these areas. Links to each government guidance page (where available) is included. Please read them to gain an understanding of the full requirements, and remember that guidance can and does change on a regular basis.

#England

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing: at least 1m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions); the speaker and those assisting (chairperson) are exempt and may remove their face covering when speaking.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Collect contact details for "test and trace" purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • No singing.
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: No more than 30 attending.
  • Weddings: No more than 15 attending.

Places of worship guidance: HERE  | Face covering information: HERE

#Scotland

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, at least 2m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions);the speaker and those assisting (chairperson) are exempt and may remove their face covering when speaking.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Collect contact details for “test and protect” purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • No singing.
  • Services: No more than 50 attending.
  • Funerals: No more than 20 attending
  • Weddings: No more than 20 attending

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information: HERE

#Wales

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, 2m or at least 1m with face coverings.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone (some exemptions for health conditions but no exemptions for the speaker / chairperson indicated to date).
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • If 2m distancing not possible, then collect contact details for “test trace protect” purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: No more than 30 attending
  • Weddings: No more than 30 attending

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information : HERE

#NorthernIreland

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Social distancing, 2m or at least 1m if not possible.
  • Face coverings advised.
  • Groups over 6 may not attend, or form while in the premises.
  • Advised as helpful to collect contact details for tracing purposes (keep for 21 days).
  • Avoid / minimise volume for singing.
  • Services: Church risk-assesses safe capacity for the space.
  • Funerals: Maximum number attending risk assessed by church.
  • Weddings: Maximum number attending risk assessed by church.

Places of worship guidance: HERE | Face covering information: HERE


September 18th 2020: Extract from a communication from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government: "We are writing today to update you on new restrictions that will come into place across the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands from Tuesday 22 September. We’d like to confirm that these new restrictions will not impact existing restrictions on communal worship or the use of places of worship but will limit social gathering further. Gatherings will be limited to households or support bubbles. 

Full information and a list of areas impacted is available on the press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/restrictions-for-more-areas-in-north-west-west-yorkshire-and-midlands-to-tackle-rising-infection-rates " #England


September 11th 2020: The Welsh Government has announced the nation's equivalent of the "Rule of 6" which will (like in England and Scotland) become law on Monday 14th September 2020. In documentation issued and press conferences so far there has been no indication that this will apply to places of worship, and that groups of up to 6 (from an extended household, not including children under 11) may attend a church under this law. #Wales

Read the announcement at gov.wales here. |  Additional info here.

Cymraeg. | Ac yma


September 10th 2020: The Scottish Government today has announced that social gatherings will face similar restrictions to England (see yesterday's announcement below / September 9th) but does have some differences. However, for clarity, this does not apply to Scottish places of worship. But as always, please maintain a Covid-19 secure environment. #Scotland

Read the announcement at gov.scot here.

September 9th 2020: From Monday September 14th the Government in England has announced that social gatherings of groups larger than six people will be illegal. For clarity, this new law does not apply to places of worship, which are exempt. They have stated about this law, "There will be a limited number of exemptions. COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups." Places of worship are still expected to be Covid-19 Secure, so please maintain all infection control measures. #England

Read the full update on Gov.uk here. 


August 25th 2020: Important information for SNU churches in #Scotland from OSCR.

Scottish Churches Charity accounts - The Union has sought guidance from OSCR in relation to the submission of accounts when it has not been possible to hold AGM’s because of the Pandemic. The guidance below is aimed at assisting our Scottish Churches though should you have and further queries please contact Head Office who will be pleased to assist you. OSCR has stated the following...

"Most of the reporting requirements to OSCR and the timescales for doing so are set in charity law. We cannot change these. However, we will change the way we respond to delays in reporting at this time.

We want to reassure charities that our approach to regulation during this time will be flexible and supportive.

We understand that for many charities it may be difficult to meet filing deadlines.  No charity will be penalised by us for this.  As the processes for updating our register are automated, there may be some cases where charities are marked as being late.  We are currently working to see what we can do to resolve that issue for those charities where the filing of accounts is likely to be affected by the pandemic. 

However, where you have all the information and are able to submit, please do so.  Your deadline is your 9 months after your financial year end date.  If you know that you are not going to be able to submit your accounts and annual return on time, then please tell us by email us at [email protected].

Wherever possible please scan and attach your accounts in OSCR Online. Any accounts posted to us will take longer to process whilst the office is closed.

At this time we are allowing charities to submit annual reports and accounts with typed signatures to help you meet your deadlines and finalise your accounts without physical or ‘wet’ signatures."


August 17th 2020: Following enquiries around temperature screening on entry to church buildings, the Union does not recommend this method as a reliable measure of infection control. Many organisations using this method have trained individuals and clinical grade equipment, and it still not a reliable indicator of a person having Covid-19, since they may be asymptomatic and still incubating the virus, or be using medication to lower temperature. Hand washing, face coverings, social distancing, effective cleaning and sanitisation, and a clear message to stay at home if symptomatic are still the best forms of infection control.


July 31st 2020: The Government has issued updated guidance on where face coverings have to be worn. This comes into place from August 8th 2020, and includes places of worship. The guidance also recommends that they should be worn now, ahead of this date. This guidance around face coverings can be found here. Only those leading a service (speaker) and those assisting (chair) are exempt from face coverings while speaking. #England


July 20th 2020: The Welsh Government have updated their guidance for places of worship in Wales, who can now follow other nations of the UK in reopening their churches. Our Welsh churches and centres should read the guidance issued here which contains details of what is expected, which includes social distancing of 2 metres. #Wales


July 15th 2020: A reminder from the SNU to assist churches and centres in their interpretation of the social distancing guidance relating to the "2 metres" distance and the "1 metre plus" distance. Our interpretation of "1 metre plus mitigation" is that it should be used only where 2 metres is not possible and that it is not part of an either/or option. Churches and centres should observe the 2 metres social distancing guidance, even when "1 metre plus" is both possible and preferable. This is to minimise the risk to committee and congregation and other visitors to the building.


July 14th 2020: The Scottish Government has released guidance for the safe use of places of worship in Scotland. Part of their Phase 3, it will permit from July 15th 2020 "pre-arranged or scheduled acts of worship, such as regular congregational services." (With social distancing measures). To see the full guidance, visit the gov.scot website page#Scotland

We are awaiting updated guidance from the Welsh Government confirming a possible date for congregational worship to resume. #Wales (now updated, see above - July 20th)


June 30th 2020: Printable posters to assist your preparations for reopening are now available to download at the foot of this page.

New specific guidance for places of worship opening after July 4th 2020 has now been released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (#England). You can read it here.


June 29th 2020: Today the government in Northern Ireland has stated (here) that "Religious services can resume in places of worship from Monday 29 June." #NorthernIreland


June 28th 2020: Below, as advised to participants, is the recording of the Zoom meeting for Presidents (or nominated representatives) of SNU Churches and Centres. It contains a discussion / Q&A of issues of concern to committees as they face the challenges of reopening their buildings after lockdown. It is posted here as an aide-memoire and as a catch-up for those unable to attend. In the rapidly changing environment, please be mindful of any changes to guidance going forward.


June 24th 2020: The Scottish government have today published new guidance which says that a date will be set for the opening of places of worship in Scotland in their July 9th 2020 review, stating this date is "unlikely to be before 23rd July." This will be part of their Phase 3 and they state that after the (yet to be decided) date, "Places of worship can re-open for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation with physical distancing and limited numbers." Updates from the Union for our Scottish churches and centres will be posted on this page. #Scotland [This guidance has been updated - see above July 14th 2020]

June 24th 2020: Following the government’s announcement that places of worship may re-open for services from July 4th 2020 (England only) we are currently examining official guidance released today to determine what this means in practice for SNU churches and centres. This will follow shortly, and be posted on this page. #England


June 16th 2020: A copy of the booklet "Unlocking Our Future" containing information and guidance for churches and centres re-opening is being mailed to every SNU Church President. They have been advised to discuss this with their committees, and to assist we have provided an electronic copy of the booklet below, and a text-only version (for those who wish to print / change the font size etc.) Presidents have also been provided with joining details for an online SNU Zoom meeting for them or a committee representative. This will take place soon, and we will discuss re-opening and answer any questions that arise.

[DOWNLOAD PDF OF "UNLOCKING OUR FUTURE"

[DOWNLOAD TEXT ONLY VERSION OF "UNLOCKING OUR FUTURE"]

Church Committee members / Pioneer Centre teams can contact us for support in the usual way.


Coronavirus Signage 

Click and Download our SNU branded signage to display in your Church or Centre, reminding your congregation to keep best practice regarding social distancing and hygiene.

Individual Posters include: 

Keep Your Distance 


Wash Your Hands


Clean & Disinfect


Face Masks


Cover Coughs & Sneezes


Avoid Handshakes


Sanitize Your Hands


To download them all in PDF format please click here