Here’s the latest news for churches and congregations from Cytûn’s Policy Officer, Revd Gethin Rhys.
On Friday April 23, the First Minister announced a series of changes to the relaxation of restrictions in Wales, meaning that we will have reached Level 3 by next Monday (May 3). Over recent days, a series of guidelines and updates have been issued to support these changes, and more will follow in the coming days. This Update draws attention to the principal matters likely to be of importance to places of worship and faith communities. None of what follows constitutes legal advice, and full details should be sourced from Welsh Government regulations and guidance in all circumstances. The amendment regulations are available here: https://gov.wales/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-no-5-wales-amendment-no-8-regulations-2021 Welsh Government has not yet re-published the complete regulations as amended.
The essence of the changes made is as follows:
from Saturday 24 April: allow any six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) to meet outdoors.
from Monday 26th April (today):
- outdoor hospitality, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, will be allowed to reopen See Welsh Government guidance for this and succeeding steps of re-opening here: https://gov.wales/guidance-for-tourism-and-hospitality-businesses-coronavirus-html and please note also the attached letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.
- Outdoor swimming pools and outdoor visitor attractions, including funfairs, amusement parks and theme parks can reopen. This may include some areas around historic places of worship – see the guidance above.
- Organised outdoor activities for adults for up to 30 people can again take place. Brief guidance on this can be found here:https://gov.wales/current-restrictions-frequently-asked-questions?_ga=2.193234414.278440518.1619433374-1091050911.1599566111#section-67257 Section 5(3)(c)(iv) of Schedule 3 of the regulations exempts “a religious service” from the limit of 30, but the guidance applies the limit to all religious activities, including worship. Those leading the event, those providing voluntary services (stewards, etc.) and children under 11 can be additional to the upper limit of 30.
- Wedding receptions for up to 30 people can take place outdoors at regulated premises.
- Guidance on care home visits has been amended to provide for the number of designated indoor visitors to be increased from 1 to 2 and to give more flexibility around visits from young children.
from Monday 3 May:
- Gyms, fitness facilities, leisure centres and swimming pools can reopen
- Extended households will be possible, allowing two households to come together to form an exclusive bubble who can meet and have contact indoors. An additional household including only one adult (a person living alone or a single parent) may be added to the bubble. This would include attendance together at worship indoors.
- Children’s indoor activities can recommence
- Organised indoor activities for adults can recommence for up to 15 people, including group exercise classes
- Community centres can reopen. This includes community activities within places of worship.
Although it will require confirmation from the Welsh Government to be elected on May 6, preparations will be made to move to alert level 2 onMonday 17 May. This would include, amongst other things:
- Indoor hospitality can reopen
- Indoor visitor attractions can open, including museums, galleries, educational and heritage attractions, and heritage sites such as stately homes and historic places of worship
- The rule of 4 applies for gatherings in regulated premises like a café (up to 4 people from 4 households) or a single household if more than 4 people.
- The rule of 6 continues outdoors. Meeting indoors in private homes will still be limited to the extended household only (exclusive bubble).
- The limits on organised activities increases to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors.
- Wedding receptions can take place indoors in regulated premises for up to 30 people.
Welsh Government has announced today that those working or volunteering, who can no longer do so from home, may order two Covid-19 tests per week: https://gov.wales/get-rapid-lateral-flow-covid-19-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms
Welsh Government has not yet published guidance relating to the steps to be taken on May 3 and May 17 (other than for hospitality and visitor attractions – see above), so faith communities are advised for now to follow the guidance issued for re-opening following the ‘firebreak lockdown’ in 2020. The guidance relating to re-opening community centres can be found here: https://gov.wales/safe-use-multi-purpose-community-centres-covid-19 and for the performing arts (including singing and playing musical instruments) here: https://gov.wales/rehearsing-performing-and-taking-part-performing-arts-guidance-phased-return-html
We are expecting revised guidance for places of worship to be published in the coming days, and a further Update will be issued when that happens. Welsh Government’s most recent letter to faith communities can be read here: https://gov.wales/rehearsing-performing-and-taking-part-performing-arts-guidance-phased-return-html
Pob bendith – Blessings