PREPARING FOR THE RE-OPENING OF THE CHURCHES

I am grateful to all the parish priests who have indicated that their parishes wish to be part of the
first phase of the re-opening of our churches. It is good to see the readiness and generosity of
volunteers and some 47 churches expressing interest in being part of this initial phase. I appreciate that local conditions – including the situation of clergy – won’t allow the re-opening of all of the churches. However, I hope the
experience of the first parishes will be a source of encouragement for everyone.
I note that parish priests are most often seeking to begin this phase by opening churches for a specific number of hours on weekdays and especially on Sundays. In conversation with the Vicars General, everyone seems to appreciate this is very much a pioneering stage as we emerge into changed circumstances and in some ways a changed world. The recent re-opening of schools, businesses and other facilities indicate elements of ‘covid security’ that will be expected of the churches in the months ahead. I am grateful to Julie Tinsley, our Health and Safety Officer, for
her availability to assist parish priests and parishioners during this first phase and beyond.
OFFICIAL GUIDANCE FOR THE REOPENING OF THE CHURCHES
As we await the final word from the Government on the timescale for the re-opening of churches, I
am pleased to be able to send you the official guidance from the Bishops of England and Wales
which has been agreed by the Government Task Force and peer reviewed by Public Health England. As I warned in my last letter, the requirements for public safety are certainly demanding. However, once we have these
provisions in place and demonstrate that we can act safely and responsibly we will have the basis to move towards the public celebration of Mass and the sacraments. It is important to note that we are awaiting from the Government the Risk Assessment Template which will be required to be completed before any church can be opened.
However, I have been assured that the guidance document attached contains all of the points to
complete this risk assessment correctly.

From Bishop Mark.

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