We are grateful to Cytun’s Policy Officer, the Revd Gethin Rhys in leading us through the latest regulations which are relevant to our churches.
I am writing to you on two matters:
- 1. On Tuesdayafternoon, the Senedd agreed to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 17) Regulations 2021 to be implemented on October 11. These Regulations will make it a requirement to ask for an NHS Covid pass or an equivalent proof (the Regulations go into detail on what will be regarded as equivalent, e.g. proof of vaccination in some other countries only) before admitting those over 18 years of age to the following:
(a) (a) Night clubs (defined in detail in Regulation 16A (2)(a))
(b) premises at which an event is taking place and more than 10,000 people are in attendance at any time;
(c) premises at which an event is taking place to any extent indoors, where— (i) more than 500 people are in attendance at any time, and (ii) not all the persons attending the event are normally seated during the event;
(d) premises at which an event is taking place outdoors, where— (i) more than 4,000 people are in attendance at any time, and (ii) not all the persons attending the event are normally seated during the event.
Marriage ceremonies are exempt from these regulations, but not other religious activities, so when faith communities arrange large scale events they will need to implement these regulations.
- Following many enquiries, I am taking the opportunity to draw your attention to the regulations regarding wearing face coverings in indoor regulated premises (including places of worship). These can be found in Regulation 20 of the current regulations. All those aged over 11 must wear a face covering indoors, except where food and drink are supplied (on sale or free of charge) or at a wedding. The additional exceptions to this requirement are limited. Here they are in full:
(a) where P is unable to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010);
(b) where P is undertaking an activity and wearing a face covering during that activity may be considered to be a risk to P’s health;
(c) where P has to remove the face covering to communicate with a person who has difficulty communicating (in relation to speech, language or otherwise);
(d) where P has to remove the face covering in order to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to P or others;
(e) where P is at the premises to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and does not have a face covering;
(f) where P has to remove the face covering to— (i) take medication; (ii) eat or drink, where reasonably necessary;
(g) where P is asked to remove the face covering by an enforcement officer.
Note that there is no exemption for events where people are seated (I think that some places of worship and secular venues are confusing the regulations regarding face coverings and the regulations about Covid passes, which do include a differentiation with regard to events where people are seated). Neither is there any exemption for singing (whether congregational singing or a choir rehearsal). A place of worship cannot be exempted from the requirement by drawing up a risk assessment showing that face coverings are not required – they are a legal requirement.
Although not included in the regulations, Welsh Government have accepted throughout that it is reasonable to remove a face covering when leading worship, but further mitigations should be taken, such as ensuring that leaders are far enough away from members of the congregation not to cause a risk of spreading the virus. Leaders will be expected to wear a face covering when not leading worship.
Pob bendith – Blessings